In The Problem, the Balloon, and the Four Bedroom House, the author discusses the critical component of project management – clearly understanding the problem and the expected results with everyone involved.
75% of the work of every successful project is completed in the initial stage. In other words, every project has a balloon phase. And if it doesn’t happen at the beginning of the project, then you may get into some serious trouble.
The “understanding” phase needs to provide you with the framework for the project. It should be assembled with all major stakeholders. And its purpose is to define the problem so you can design the solution. The 4 bedroom house.
On 13 March, 1999, Habitat for Humanity in New Zealand made the Guinness Book of Records. They constructed a four-bedroom house from scratch. It took a mere 3 hours, 44 minutes and 59 seconds. (I’m sure there’s a reality TV show in there somewhere, but I don’t believe we need another one of those.) An incredible feat. The significant fact is that it took 14 months of planning to achieve.
The balloon was inflated at the correct end.
I often refer to the “first rule of project management”, which is – choose the right project. The balloon analogy is similar. If you don’t address all of the issues at the front end, then your project may balloon out of scope (and budget) in the middle, which is probably after you’ve negotiated the price. This is a great little article to remind us of many things that we probably already know about project management, but are worth reconfirming. The discussions are interesting, too.