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10 laws of project management

Augustine’s Law

A bad idea executed to perfection is still a bad idea

Corollary: A good idea poorly executed is of no use to anyone

 

Lakein’s Law

Failing to plan is planning to fail

Eisenhower’s corollary : Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.

 

Fitzgerald’s Law

There are two states to any large project :

  • too early to tell
  • and too late to stop

Corollary: Projects have momentum, once started they become increasingly difficult to stop

 

Hofstadter’s Law

It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.

 

Parkinson’s Law

Work expands to fill the time available.

Corollary: If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute to do

 

Constantine’s Law

A fool with a tool is still a fool.

Corollary: A fool with a tool is a more dangerous fool

 

Graham’s Law

If they know nothing of what you are doing, they suspect you are doing nothing

 

Murphy’s Law

If anything can go wrong, it will.

1st corrolary: Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse.

2nd corrolary: If there is a worse time for something to go wrong, it will happen then

 

Kinser’s Law

By the time you finish doing something, you know enough to start

 

 

 

Finish your ideas

 

We all have ideas.

Sometime we don’t even realise we do, as we don’t always pay attention to the flow of our mind.

Some ideas come and pass and never come back.

Some stick around.

Sometime we turn these ideas into action.

But even then we seldom finish them.

 

Parkinson’s law

Parkinson’s law is a project-management rule of thumb stating that :

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”

It does have some interesting corollaries, like “If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute to do”  (and jokes aside, it is a really interesting principle which has some curious correlations with the economic law of demand, but that’s off topic for this post.)

The reason it matters – is that we tend to think we have time doing something, until we realise we don’t, and the idea never turn into anything real.

And all good things takes time.

But we don’t have time.

So ideas are started and never finished.

Well… that is not a fatality.

If instead of trying to realise the best version of the idea straight out to the bat, you will be disappointed and will probably have time to finish anyway.

Enter agile.

Release Early, Release Often

Agile is a software principle that was introduced in order to fight the evil Waterfall model of project management which would cause the death of so many projects and actually would burn a lot of money.

Company would start a project and then run out of budget and the project would die.

Quite similar to most of us who start an idea, run out of time and we drop it.

To fight this, the idea was quite simple: deliver as fast as possible the smallest possible piece of software. Don’t overdo it and instead keep working, releasing and improving.

This is also known as an iterative development process, where at each release you improve on the back of the previous one.

TL;DR:

Release early a small version of your grandiose idea is the first step toward completion.

The good thing: each release is a done version.

Done is better than perfect.

 

Just Ship

Agile was a niche innovation mainly in the world of software.

Seth Godin has shared a similar concept with a larger audience.

“What you do for a living is not be creative, what you do is ship”

Shipping is what define a successful creative from a failing one.

For a good reason: the more we overthink our creation, the less likely we are to get it out to the world.

(Side note: the resistance is the core reason why ideas die before they get implemented.)

Watch his talk on on how to avoid sabotaging projects just before we finally finish them.

 

 

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Everything is a remix

 

The quote above is a funny, yet very accurate introduction to the topic developed in the documentary by Kirby Ferguson : Everything is a Remix.

(side note: If you care who said this quote go check this link to figure out nobody really knows.)

Everything is a remix explores the concept of originality in creativity.

 

Never heard of it?

Please, take the time to watch it below.

In an era where content creation, and Internet are at the core of our culture and economy, understanding how creativity works is a must-have skill.

 

Here are the 4 episodes and some bullets points for those a bit lazy in a hurry.

 

Episode 1 – Music

Where you learn:

  • Heavy Metal was a term coined to remix text and not music
  • Daft Punk in “Around the world” is just a resampled version from “Good times“,  by Chic – a hit from the late 70’s.
  • Stairway to Heaven opening was not created by Led Zeppelin but was a cover from an other group, Taurus
  • Actually most of Led Zeppelin songs are covers and knock-offs
  • Most of Bob Dylan musics are also covers (explained in detailed in the TED Talk linked below)

 

Episode 2 – Films

  • 74% of hollywood major output are either remix, sequels or books adaptations
  • If you think Star Wars was a very original piece of film, well…  brace yourself, disappointments are coming (Flash Gordon rippoff to heavy Japanese film influence, and more…)
  • Kill bill is a complete mashup of other films, with nearly no piece of original elements

 

Episode 3 – Technology

  • The nature of creativity
  • Computing
  • Science

This episode is more interesting for its historical perspective – as today most of the facts presented about the Mac and computing in general are kind of common knowledge.

And in general, we are more culturally ready to see scientists and engineers build on the top of their predecessors.

 

Episode 4 – Copyrights, Patents

Because we can be as much assholes to each other as we can be great to each other.

Watch this one and educate yourself

Please.

Really.

 

If you want more from Kirby Ferguson:

A case study on the iphone – a clear and his TED Talk 

 

Still reading?

Well, just a few words to wrap this:

Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed, said Antoine Lavoisier – famous chemist from the 18th century

He talked about chemical transformation and how matter works.

Yet, the matter of ideas is pretty similar.

Some thinkers even go as far to say that nothing is ever invented but is only discovered (can’t remember their name – old memories from philosophy classes in high-school – if you have names, drop them in the comment section please).

So anyway – practical considerations :

  • Creativity imply we absorb models and patterns of creations
  • The nature of the transformation is up to us, each will manifest his / her own creativity by remixing the old into a kind of unique new thing that will help share his/her vision of the world.
  • Imposter syndrome is the result of our lack understanding of how creativity works.

Side note on copyright laws:

Copyright laws have long lost their initial purpose of protecting creators, and we cannot change this.

What we can however, is to join the collective effort of creation and that each add his/her own piece to the giant patchwork that is our human creative soul.

Good luck.

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The Resistance

The resistance is some phenomenon well known of creative people, entrepreneurs and anybody trying to make something different and/or new happen – to some extent it is like a force of nature that manifest itself against our will to improve, our desire to advance.

The resistance is the dark side of the force, here to maintain our free choice in the grand scheme of thing.

 

But mostly, resistance is a little bitch.

Many authors have talked about this phenomenon.

The best I have ever read so far is Steven Pressfield, who dedicated a number of books to it, and his words are so accurate that it is a must read for everyone in the business of making shit happen.

 

Here it is.

 

From The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

 

The following is a list, in no particular order, of those activities that most commonly elicit Resistance:

  • The pursuit of any calling
  • The launching of any entrepreneurial venture or enterprise, for profit or otherwise.
  • Any diet or health regimen
  • Any program of spiritual advancement.
  • Education of every kind.
  • The undertaking of any enterprise whose aim is to help others.
  • Any act that entails commitment of the heart (the decision to get married, to have a child, to weather a rocky patch in a relationship, etc.)
  • The taking of any principled stand in the face of adversity.

In other words, any act that rejects immediate gratification in favour of long-term growth, health, or integrity

Or, expressed another way, any act that derives from our higher nature instead of our lower.

Any of these acts will elicit resistance.

Now, what are the characteristics of Resistance?

Resistance Is Invisible

Resistance cannot be seen, heard, touched, or smelled. But it can be felt. We experience it as an energy field radiating from a work-in-potential.

Resistance is a repelling force.

It’s negative.

Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.

Resistance Is Insidious

Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work.

It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole.

Resistance is protean.

It will assume any form, if that’s what it takes to deceive you.

Resistance will reason with you like a lawyer or jam a 9-millimeter in your face like a stickup man.

Resistance has no conscience.

It will pledge anything to get a deal.

Then  it will double-cross you as soon as your back is turned.

 

If you take Resistance at its word, you deserve everything you get.

Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.

Resistance Is Impersonal

Resistance is not out to get you personally.

It doesn’t know who you are and doesn’t care.

Resistance is a force of nature. It acts objectively.

Though it feels malevolent, Resistance in fact operates with the indifference of rain and transits the heavens by the same laws as stars.

When we marshal our forces to combat Resistance, we must remember this.

 

Resistance Is Infallible

Like a magnetized needle floating on a surface of oil, Resistance will unfailingly point to true North—
meaning that calling or action it most wants to stop us from doing.

We can use this.

We can use it as a compass.

We can navigate by Resistance, letting it guide us to that calling or purpose that we must follow before all others.

Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution,
the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.

 

Resistance Is Universal

We’re wrong if we think we’re the only ones struggling with Resistance.

Everyone who has a body experiences Resistance.

Resistance Never Sleeps

Henry Fonda was still throwing up before each stage performance,

even when he was seventy-five.

In other words, fear doesn’t go away.

The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity:

The battle must be fought anew every day.

Resistance Plays for Keeps

Resistance’s goal is not to wound or disable.

Resistance makes no prisoners.

Resistance aims to kill.

Its target is the epicenter of our being: our genius, our soul, our uniqueness.

Resistance aim to take the priceless gift we were put on this earth to give and that no one else has but us.

Resistance means business.

When we fight it, we are in a war to the death

— About The Resistance – by  Steven Pressfield

 

Now you know.

Start paying attention.

Procrastination, self-doubt, over-confidence, anything that result in delaying the creation of anything of value – is the resistance at work.

Fighting the resistance is like a sport.

You start slow and easy.

As you get better, so does the resistance.

It is like Newton third law, for every force exerted, you have a a second force in direct opposition and equal in magnitude  resisting the force of progress.