Too much is just about right?

Is less more? Or is more better? Or is too much just about right? That could be an interesting discussion at your next party or staff meeting. Almost every time I talk about my model for handling problems and project activities someone tells me how important it is to get all details right. I can understand the scary feeling when “less is more” is discussed.

Why is “too much” a dangerous way even if most people feel secure when they can have everything? Time and other resources are limited. Focus on the right things will therefore always lead to a better result. So what is the best - but not most convenient - way to manage your projects?

  1. Focus on the 80 % that really matter and since it normally only takes 20 % of the time to get those 80 % sorted out you will have plenty of time for pedagogical presentations and quality assurance of the important issues.
  2. Do not dig into details until they are to be solved which normally comes later in the implementation phase when the solution and circumstances have changed. Or have you worked in any project that did not change before or during implementation? The details that matter are very seldom the same in the beginning of the project as at the end of a project.
  3. Your documentation should not be longer than that people actually read and comment on every part of it. Hand on heart - how often do people read and comment on your 40/60/100 pages report? Do you get much more comments when you present a short summary and pictures? I know the answer after having delivered good results in many challenging projects.

To follow a “less is more” approach is more demanding. The Project Leader or Program Manager has to understand what is important and not and make the presentation clear and easily understandable. He will need people who know their reality who he can trust to be sure to present the right 80 %. But on the other hand that is what he is being paid for! And it feels much better to get paid for making a difference. By using this approach you will deliver just as good results at a lower cost and in much less time.

So what if things are not right when the solution is implemented? If there are details that will prove the solution wrong? That happens just as often if you have presented detailed reports since they are so seldom quality assured anyway and by a “less is more” approach you will have plenty of time to modify the solution. How often is it not necessary to modify the solution even when each and every detail have been discussed?

In my book (that will soon be available in English too) I write more about how to keep track of details so you have them readily available when you need them later on. If you want to know more right now I am happy to answer any questions you might have.

I would love to hear about you success with your project decluttering!

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