In April 2002 Rob Thomsett released his successful book Radical Project Management. Contained within was a little gem known as Project Success Sliders.
In normal Project Management there is a well known term called ‘the Iron Triangle’. This triangle represents the three key facets that a Project Manager needs to normally watch like a hawk – the scope, the cost and the time. In non-Agile Project Management these three elements are commonly fixed. In Agile Project Management these elements are defined at the start of the project, however as circumstances change we want a trade-off to occur. If we can’t meet our initial proposed scope, cost, time and quality then something has to give.
Generally I don’t allow team satisfaction to be traded off, it goes directly against sustainable pace and good leadership. Similarly I don’t normally have stakeholder satisfaction because ultimately that is a gauge of the four elements (scope, cost, time and quality) at play.
So what Project Success Sliders allows you to do is have an upfront frank discussion to acknowledge that it is hard to meet all four elements and that if something has to give what is it? Not all four can be possibly fixed. One will always be the most flexible, one will always be the most fixed. Two will be somewhere in the middle. This is about a conversation to understand critical needs.
So why do I raise the subject of Project Success Sliders?
In organisations I believe there is a similar model at play. I call them, for lack of anything incredibly imaginative, Organisational Success Sliders. Rather than the slider elements at play being time, cost, scope and quality we instead have Shareholder Value, Employee Engagement, Customer Delight, Supplier/Partner Symbiosis and lastly Environmental/Ethical Responsibility. The first three should be fairly obvious. The last two might require some explanations – supplier/partner symbiosis is about a mutually beneficial relationship. It isn’t healthy to screw your suppliers value down to nothing. It results in a loose/loose situation. Environment/Ethical Responsibility is about being corporately responsible with the world. How much is an organisation investing in being sustainable? In being carbon neutral? In ensuring that its suppliers aren’t using child labour in China?
Most organisations have Organisational Success Sliders set to Shareholder Value fixed at priority 1. Employee Engagement and Customer Delight are in the 2/3 slots, usually with customers winning over employee satisfaction. Supplier/Partner Symbiosis and Environmental/Ethical Responsibility are both vying for the last spot as the most flexible.
I want organisations to think of more than just Shareholder Value. I want them to consciously choose whether to put Shareholders above and beyond all other elements. Should these elements really be prioritized? Probably not, but they are, so call it for what it is and make is clear where the priorities lie. Only through firstly making this constraint transparent do we free ourselves to question it.