How to Be a Better Project Manager

Economics, at its core, is the management of scarcity. Project management is exactly the same thing; managing fixed amounts of time, money, human skill, and material to create a successful outcome.

The diagram I post here is hardly new. I first encountered it 16+ years ago when I was driving around Philadelphia having different printers walk me through how they manage production. Nearly all the project managers had this triangle tacked up at their desks.

How to read the Project Manager’s Pyramid:

When this diagram says pick any two, read it like this: You want it Good and Cheap? It won’t be fast. You want it Good and Fast? It won’t be cheap. If you want it Cheap and Fast, it won’t be good. Any time you try to impose all three criteria onto a project you do three things: 1. Risk the project 2. Risk the customer. 3. Risk a heart attack.

Scott’s seven rules of production management. 

  1. Keep time your friend.
  2. Deliver early. Iterate often. (even if you have to iterate privately)
  3. Protect your ability to do a good job.
  4. Trust enough to delegate. Good resources make for better outcomes.
  5. If you can’t state the project’s objective simply, you don’t have a good handle on the project’s objective.
  6. If you don’t have time to do it right in the first place, how will you have time to fix it?
  7. Don’t let the production management tools get in the way of the production management.
My vote for the best quote by a project manager: 
“Let’s work the problem people. Let’s not make things worse by guessing.”


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