There is a popular myth - mostly by those Agile Management 3.0 thought leaders who don't play or even know much about team sports involving balls, grass - about "emergent" behavior. The myth is that the "rules" of the game and the boundaries of the field are the governing guidance in the game of Football.
The Michigan coach in the picture to the left is looking at his playbook. The playbook defines what plays can be, or are going to be, used during the game.
The playbook has to follow the rules of the game. That's the role of the referees and field judges. If the play is not in the playbook, it is not going to be used during this game. There may be more plays available to the team than are in the playbook for today's game, but they're not going to be used.
So here's the lesson for Project Management.
Where is your Playbook? And If you have a Playbook, are those Plays going to increase your chances of winning?
Don't have a playbook?, then it's going to be an ugly day. Have a playbook but don't execute the plays properly?, it's going to be an ugly day. Execute the proper plays in the proper sequence, your chances of winning will improve. No guarantee's, just be improved.
The Playbook for a project is the Integrated Master Plan. The application of the plays, like American Football, depends on the emerging situation that resulted from the last play. Not the score on the score board. That's the Integrated Master Schedule.
Does this mean the Master Plan doesn't change during the game or during the project? Of course not, that would nonsense. But you better have a really good reason for changing the plan. In football and baseball, that's actually a strategy - to get the other team to change their plan. To go off the playbook and try doing something that they haven't practiced well enough to properly execute. To disrupt the flow of play.
How about changes in the Master Schedule during the game or during the project? Happens all the time. Here's a thought to put to work in ball games as well as projects.
Planning is not “plan and forget” but an ongoing dynamic activity that peers into the future for indications as to where a solution may emerge and treat the plan as a complex situation, adapting to an emerging solution.
If you have a Plan B, you should have given thought to the possible Plan B's, before you execute Plan B. Otherwise your Plan B may be just what your opponent wants you to do - decrease your probability of success.
This idea comes from a colleague Mike Dwyer, IT Program Manager, used with permission.
So why the notion that a football team - or a project - that self-organizes within the boundaries of the playing field and the rules as they are laid down by the football association? Without the understanding of the Playbook, with most times the plays being called in by the coach. Can't say. Maybe because those notions come from observers of football, not players of football.