Lighthouse Project Management

Blind spots are the cause of every project train wreck.

The project was careening towards a cliff. The technical debt was accumulating, the money was running out and the client was making larger and more distracting changes. At the same time the research and background was inscrutable. The specifications were detailed and vouched for. Expectations were set and reenforced with everyone agreeing enthusiastically with the project vision. Apparently none of that mattered.

  • A client would sign off on a specification and a deadline and then insist on needless time-wasting changes during every review.
  • A salesperson would promise the new client a smooth build and then make side deals that wreck any chance of quality on-time delivery.
  • The client rep craves recognition among peers and management resulting in a strong incentive to influence product visuals and generate clear evidence of managerial involvement.
  • The salesperson has a compensation plan that rewards sales more than quality on time delivery.

Bias doesn’t change until the incentive changes.

Uncovering an Incentive-Caused Bias doesn’t change the incentive, it merely allows you to defend the project plan. The final aspect of Lighthouse Project Management is to remember to check your blind spot again and again. If an engineer’s bias means a proclivity towards risky technologies it’ll be necessary to constantly check to ensure that this isn’t the source of technical complications. This is a powerful tool because when issues arise you’ll know where to look first. I’ve found that once I understand team members’ bias I also have a short list of possible problem sources; I can often get directly to the cause of an issue and have a prepared a way around it.

Serial entrepreneur and photojournalist. Husband, father, global citizen.

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