The Emergency Valve

In any given project you have three factors to completion. The specification of done, the resources allotted and the time to completion. At the beginning you make estimates for all three. Things like the specification for done will be more easily determined, as will the number of people working on the project. Time is sometimes determined by a deadline.

If you choose rigid definitions for all three factors, though, you are setting yourself up for a very dangerous situation. Your whole system might explode, with overworked employees, a product not up to specs and a deadline that just whooshed by. A solution is to choose one factor as a variable, a sort of emergency valve, to be adjusted as the requirements of the project become clearer. Extend the deadline, allot more resources, or simplify the project.

Now, I’m not really concerned with running a business with multiple employes, but I do have projects. Say I am knitting something for a family member. My resources are fixed, there’s only me, as are the specs with the choice of knitting pattern. So the only factor I have left is the time I invest into the project and so in a pinch I need to let the deadline whoosh by.

One might argue that I can overwork myself and not sleep, but the end goal of implementing systems is to achieve a sustainable work life. So that I can do project after project with ease.

So next time, remember resources-specs-time; which one will be your emergency valve?


I have some really smart people in my family, my mom for example. She works with Lean Project Management and the other day she introduced me to this awesome model for project management with respect to a knitting project that I hadn’t gotten done in time.

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