Emanuele Passera wants to tell you the hypothetical story of Mario, Roman chef, and his decision to expand his business. Mario ran a small restaurant that could pack less than 20 people at a time, and he only offered two appetizers, three first courses, and two main courses. Fortunately, the food was delicious and the place was always packed, so Mario decided to expand. He could now house more than 80 people, so he hired two more people and upgraded to six appetizers, three first courses, and four new main courses. Suddenly, Mario’s kitchen could no longer keep up with demand, and his business tanked. This fortunately fictional story has implications for project management.
Diminishing Returns and Repeating Patterns
As most of us know, the law of diminishing returns dictates that there is a point at which adding additional resources hurts a project more than it helps it, generally due to physical limitations. Adding a mere two additional chefs when there are not even enough available tools for them all to make the various kinds of food effectively is clearly not a good idea. Passera goes on to say:
A one-size-fits-all methodology does not exist in project management (and in many other human activities). Since each project is different, it is possible that processes and plans that worked well in the past could fail, if slavishly and uncritically applied, in future situations. It is not a wrong practice to derive management plans and processes, from those previously successfully used in similar projects. We have to take care to spot all the aspects in which the projects differ and in which they are similar; we have to respect and to leverage the differences between them.
Solutions can be scaled to an extent, but not infinitely. You need to develop the skills to determine how widely a given solution can be applied to bigger and smaller scenarios. For further insights, you can read Passera’s full post here: http://pmcrumbs.blogspot.com/2014/11/project-management-execution-efficiency.html