Project Management – I scream, YOU scream and WE all like Ice Cream!

(re-posted / recovered)

What better way to demystify Project Management, than taking an example of buying ice cream for your family.

In this article, I will attempt to draw parallels within the personal and professional world and use contexts interchangeably, to highlight key themes that could / maybe explain how we typically react and act, in a “Project” world and sometimes, even at home.

You will probably relate to this in more ways than one. 🙂

So here goes.

What they want?

Let’s start with looking at how a simple wish list (aka “end user requirements”) would look like. There is usually a structure behind all the perceived madness.

What They want

If you look at it closely, it always is a mixture of their needs, wants and likes – all clubbed together.

Be receptive enough to understand this.


What we think they want!

OK, so we have possibly seen how a typical wish list looks like. Mind you, this is just a representation to show “someone’s” preferences and how it usually is structured (in the minds of people). Now when it comes to understanding the same / getting this out and being able to deliver to those expectations (as PMs) how difficult can it get?!

This is the actual tricky part and a test of our abilities and how the project will shape up for the future.

what we think they want

How it goes wrong:

In most normal scenarios, our perspective which is guided by (unfortunately) a well developed tunnel vision usually makes us fall prey to the umbrella effect. This is mainly due to a combination of internal and external factors –exec level stakeholder apathy / differences, organizational constraints, cost / schedule pressure, legacy processes, lack of awareness etc in that order.


we treat all stakeholders the same, their WANTS and NEEDS the same and think that they would LIKE the same, and hence end up giving them the “same”.

Key takeaway: Mind the Tunnel Vision and the subsequent Umbrella Effect

So what do we “Deliver”!

Finally, after an arduous cycle, we deliver a “something” (the “same” that we talked about earlier).

what we manage

In the ensuing battle and growing awareness, that “something” is not quite right, we subject ourselves and everyone else to pacification cycles. We start pacifying, in stages.

This is what normally happens when we do not steer right, from the beginning – from understanding expectations, to realizing their impact / effect, to balancing expectations (tradeoffs  between wants, needs and likes), to keeping people (who matter) involved and also in making them participate in the whole journey.

Key Takeaway:

EXPECTATIONS = x%WANTS + y% NEEDS + z% LIKES (where x, y, z >0 and <= 100). The x, y and z predominantly indicate that a certain balancing / fine tuning is necessary to find the optimum mix.

Also, make every stakeholder participate and contribute to attain this optimum mix, rather than act as a independent entity who only comes in to certify if this has been achieved!

What we get!

No surprises here!

what we getLessons Learnt Summary

For those of you who haven’t learnt / gone through this experience the hard way yet – Congratulations, you either are on the right track or the train’s just behind you 🙂


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