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The Ultimate Project Constraint: Management Attention

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Son Nguyen's picture

Management attention is the ultimate project constraint. If you’re unfamiliar with the Theory of Constraints, a critical resource is any resource that is essential to complete a goal and that we always feel we don’t have enough of.

Management attention is the biggest constraint in your projects because the system you operate won’t produce results on its own merit. The more conflicts (between objectives, people, etc.), complexity, and uncertainty in your system, the more of the resource you will need.

So if management attention is the ultimate constraint, how can we exploit it? In other words, how can we management our management attention, so that projects will maximize stakeholder value.

The key is to realize that everything within your project is connected. No issue exists in isolation. However, the common way to manage a project is to dissect it and maximize the performance of subsystems.

This wastes and distorts management attention. Instead, take on as much of holistic view as you can and understand interconnections. Tackle can also help you keep the larger picture in mind, because it permits you to consider task precedence and interdependency. In doing so, it can help you answer question like:

  • When will the entire project be completed?
  • Which activities can be delayed without delaying the whole project?
  • Which activities or tasks cannot run late without delaying the whole project’s completion?
  • On any given date, is the money spent equal to, less than, or greater than the budgeted amount?
  • At any particular date, is the project on schedule, behind schedule, or ahead of schedule?

By understanding the project as a holistic interconnected system, new understanding can be achieved and a big picture view of the project can help you better understand its dynamics.


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