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More Sweetness and Simplification

I wrote earlier about the propensity of Project Management types to adopt checklists to explain and (I assume) inspire themselves. I keep finding new examples. Am I just convincing myself that it is more common then it really is? I still can't put my finger on what it is about this kind of writing that annoys me. I don't think it is wrong, but it does seem that something is missing. Maybe it is just because they are prescriptive - "do this" - yet offer no reasoning for why the rules should be followed.

A rule is a generalized response to a certain situation or problem. I find it more interesting to read about the problem and the solution rather than some rule which may or may not apply. The only exception is "thou shall not link to summary tasks" the reasons for which should be obvious to all and the penalty for transgression is nothing but sure and swift.

I guess I'm just a "spirit of the law" rather than a "letter of the law" person at heart.

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  • Comments (5)


    I appreciate your honest feedback. However, I feel I do need to defend myself. I think through "checklists" it makes it easier for people to remember what they read (especially given the volume of information that is out there). I try to balance that with enough information to give people a starting place on the "whys of doing this".

    Nothing takes the place of real experience, but I'm hoping that my "thoughts" are a starting place to trigger people to gain the experience and knowledge firsthand. It would take a lot more detail, and something different than a blog, to provide the information you are asking in the "letter of the law".

    My blog (as well as many out there) are to start conversations and encourage people to take the information and do more research. It isn't the goal at least for my blog to tell you how to implement these things. That will depend on the skills of the people, the kind of organization, the work you do, etc



    Thanks for the clarification. I wouldn't say that you need to "defend" yourself. I subscribed to your feed :-) My comments are just my own thoughts - thinking out loud you might say. I'm just trying to figure out what it is I don't like about checklists.

    I typically don't take anything on faith and I often take an extreme position to test an assumption that is being made. Simplification and codification require me to take things on faith, and contrary to your claim that it makes things easier for people to remember, I think combining several important and interesting ideas into a small list makes it too dense to really start dissecting.

    I prefer to have a single idea exposed on all sides. Then I like to question it and poke at it.

    Johanna Rothman did a best of both worlds approach to this recently with her schedule games series. Rather than put 11 of them in a single list she posted them one at a time with ample explanation and example. I found it to be very memorable.


    Thanks for the clarification (and subscribing to my feed)!

    I loved Johanna's series, and modeled my own with the Better Meetings series. There was just too much to provide on one posting, so I broke it up into multiple postings.

    The verdict is still out for me if each blog should stand on its own or the "series" idea can work.

    Funny, I tend to hate check lists but find myself building them for people all the time because others live by them and I know they will use them if they have them. I would rather a client use a maybe oversimplified checklist than nothing at all. :-)

    I too subscribed to your feed "Skip"




    I'm not saying they don't have their uses. I'm just saying I have little use for them. There is a lot of Project Management "stuff" I have little use for. I am a minimalist at heart. (just don't interpret that as being lazy...)


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