Now it is four

4D

4D

And so the time has come that a project manager has to juggle 4 things.

It just doesn’t seem possible. Two dimensions we can handle easily. Three dimensions are within the grasp of the more experienced guys and gals. But four!

I’m not alone here. More than a hundred years ago (in 1827) Möbius already started imagining four dimensions and developing theories on how to deal with them.

Even in my very short (30 years) work experience I’ve learn’t that you can keep your focus on one or two things, but the more things you are watching the more likely you are to forget what you are watching … or put differently, you will ignore critical warning signs from one of those dimensions, possible causing problems in your project.

The modern project managers dilemma is often quoted as balancing the three dimensions of Scope, Time and Cost as I commented here before or my favourite PM handbook by Rory Burke here. For a while we were comfortable that we understood the environment. But that is about to change.

So what are those four dimensions? Today’s politically charged environment is a tough environment to play in. It is not what you do (my late mother’s favourite saying) it is what other people think you are doing. Outcomes are no longer sufficiently defined by concrete deliverables. And the newly added dimension is all about politics.

While reading about Felix Baumgartner’s latest attempt to break the human sound barrier (read all about it here) I saw doctor Jonathan Clark pick up the new trend. He says modern projects face four basic challenges: politics, economics, technical risk, and schedule risk. He so wisely continues that schedule risk is the risk that comes with being pressured to move too fast. Wow that sounds familiar.

As a short digression: A blinding glimpse of the obvious. Competitive pressures often times force us to deliver too fast.

How do we handle this? How do we cope! What can we do to squeeze the impossible four dimensions into a recognisable manageable two or three dimensions and survive? According to the educators it is possible to create views in 2D or 3D that represent 4D. It is not really what you see, but you know what it means.

So I guess the future trends will definitely be to appoint project managers who are not only technically competent, but also have political awareness. This is going to demand a rewrite of CV’s, most likely the addition of list of stakeholders you engaged with.

How does that make you feel? You are welcome to comment by clicking on the link near the top of this post.


2 Responses to “Now it is four”

  1. name witheld says:

    This could be one of the most important words I ever read in a long time, I’m uttering about this part of your post “… more likely you are to forget what you are watching – or put differently, you will ignore critical warning …” this is it, you just crushed it down pal.

  2. name witheld says:

    This is one of the most compelling article I ever learnt today, I’m speaking about this part of your article “… political awareness. This is going to demand a rewrite of CVs, most likely the addition of …” this is it, you just smashed it down pal.