This Guest paper is an update of an earlier paper published on the Internet in June 1999.

It was submitted for publication on this web site and is Copyright to M.A. Seely & Q.P. Duong, 2005.
Published here February 2006.

PART II | The Planning and Control Paradox | The Customer Service Paradox
The Project Leader Paradox | The Partnering Paradox | The Learning Paradox
A Supplementary Explanation

The Customer Service Paradox
(The second of five paradoxes)

... in striving to accommodate user needs, we jeopardize the solution that we are providing on their behalf ...

Undertaking an MBO project with a fixed set of objectives to deal with is one thing; having to please a multitude of end users en route per MBV is quite another. For the information age, and the projects that are part of it, connectivity is the key. Using the number of communication links as an indicator, the number of possible links amongst "n" stakeholders can be determined by the formula: "n(n l)/2".

Further, as we form end user groups with various interests, the potential combinations go through the roof: "n(2n/2+n-l)". For example, 10 people can come at you in 5,210 ways (see Figure A2).

Figure A2: Communications Explosion
Figure A2: Communications Explosion

Our capacity to deal with projects changes dramatically as the LSB moves back through the project life cycle. Although we (the project management community) are particularly adept at handling MBR and MBM, MBOs remain a challenge, and the MBVs seem to be largely beyond our grasp.

In order to have a reasonable chance at success in today's MBVs and MBPs, it would seem that we have a responsibility to stakeholders to do one of two things: improve our capacity to manage, or simplify the requirement (see Figure A3). The former is the subject of a diverse number of groups looking for the right project management certification formula. The latter is more complex. It involves addressing tradeoffs, freezing platforms, and imposing standards through some central authority with far reaching implications to end user authority and accountability.

Figure A3: Our Capacity to Repeat Success
Figure A3: Our Capacity to Repeat Success

As we search for the solution, one thing is certain: notwithstanding our best intentions, there is no point in proceeding if the ambition with which we undertake a project outweighs our capacity to deliver.

The Planning and Control Paradox  The Planning and Control Paradox

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