Last week we had a project scoping day: in a room, client and AMIS, setting the boundaries of the project. Nothing unusual you would say. It is healthy to determine the scope of your project and ensure a mutual understanding of that scope and the underlying business goals it supports. The thing is: this project scoping day was way after the system had been delivered. In fact: our client was testing. And wellâ€¦then there is a lot of potential for disaster.
During the day the client project manager used the term â€œPavlov reactionâ€. As you probably know Pavlov is best known for his experiments showing reflex responses with dogs: dogs drool in anticipation of food, sounding a bell when presenting food links the bell to the food (when repeated often enough). In the end the dog drools when a bell is sounded even when there is no food (http://nobelprize.org/educational_games/medicine/pavlov/).
Humans have similar Pavlov reactions. In projects it is no different. When I hear the project team discuss new features my internal link is â€œRequest for Changeâ€. When the client sees a Request for Change his first reaction is â€œWeâ€™ll see about thatâ€. Soâ€¦entering into a project scoping day with client and supplier project teams might give Pavlov a field day and turn the project into a battlefield.
By suppressing our Pavlov reactions we were able to analyze requirements and limitations, go back to the basic assumptions of the project and develop a solution we both agreed to. In fact we discovered that our mutual understanding and trust had evolved to a basis for project success any scope document would have had a hard time beating!
Try to find your Pavlov reaction today.
You have one, hell, youâ€™ve got ten!