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New Development > Inspiration
From Storyboard to Execution
Hollywood Roots. Modern project management supposedly has its roots in the military environment. The first project documentation originates from building the nuclear bomb in the so-called "Manhattan Project." Others claim that the roots of modern project management lie in film production. A book by Ralph S. Singleton about "Film Scheduling" gave the impulse for the following thoughts. Motion picture scheduling is a precisely structured and organized process, which indeed bears similarities to project management. Production stages vary between wild enthusiasm and total confusion, and also utter despair is often to find in both disciplines. A feature film starts with a script, which determines the film project scope, and its break down into scenes, an equivalent to work packages in PM speak.
The question in the room had beeen: Which food would you compare our big project to? My "elephant burger" anaology was quite unexpected... to some. (Thanks to the kids for coloring my above sketch about eating an elephant.)

Some things are not negotiable: Ever since Moses did climb down Mount Sinai, the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments in his hands, the term "written in stone" is used to describe something definite. (Thanks once more to the kids for coloring my sketch!)
Project Schedule. Films are often shot out of sequence, as parameters like location, cast members, and time of the year influence the determination and execution against the optimal shooting schedule. Breakdown sheets typically define details from cast and atmosphere to props and special effects. Success, as so often, depends on people, their dedication, talent, and hard work. It is the "who does what" that needs to be defined, as various specialized teams conduct the shooting, screening and post production. A production manager, just like any other project manager, needs to constantly build alternate routes in order to be prepared for all eventualities. Both of them are haunted by the fascinating question: What if...?
Goulash Dynamics. The speed of change results from the ability to execute against a plan. As times continue to change, also documentation of any kind needs to address the imminent need for ongoing, dynamic rewrite. Then again, when dealing with requirements, one usually needs a clear cut-off, which does not constantly change like a moving target. Finalized specifications that is signed-off forms the basis for hand-over to design and development, when following the traditional, sequential waterfall approach with clear phase gates. Even in iterative, agile development cycles, at one point of time new input has to stop, as the minimum viable product becomes production ready. When it comes to "living documents," one has to clearly agree cutoff timings and revision cycles, otherwise it can quickly become a horror movie. ("Run, the document is alive and coming after us!") Somehow the saying comes to mind that "a Goulash never stops – ein Gulasch hoert nie auf."
Changing Platform. We have to leave certain things behind in order to move on and accelerate to the next level. Speaking of analogies, here is yet another example from completely different areas. With respect to a data management work stream that handles the preparation of data conversion to a new platform, the planning of a move, a relocation to a new living place, comes to mind. Why is obvious, isn't it? In preparing for an IT system change, working on requirements for development and set-up of the new solution is one thing. Data migration is another...
Thorough Review. Planning the conversion of master data, which are stored in the previously used environment, is another. Data profiling describes the activity to verify data integrity and analyze, whether conversion criteria for the new system environment are fulfilled. It is usually followed by a corrective action called data cleansing, meant to improve data quality. Preparation for data migration, in a way, is like sorting belongings before moving to a new flat. One would determine, which things to take along and just throw out those, which are not needed any more.
Painful Reduction. During review, one may even find hidden treasures, quite useful things that were long forgotten. Usually, one cleans house more frequently though than once in a while as part of an upcoming new installation or upgrade. Data purge is the regular reduction of stored information, in order to optimize performance and free capacities for future additions. In the first purge process, obsolete and unused information is flagged inactive or deleted, which still allows for reactivation. Only during the second purge, information is fully deleted and physically removed.
Purging Memories. It makes sense to at first move old things into the basement, which we may clean out once a year. A lesson I learned, when being called to return home in order to "reactivate" a toy that I had dumped after it had been just collecting dust under a bed. But the garbage men were faster, they had already emptied the trash can. So my better half made me order a replacement for the lost toy globe-pillow. Some people say that they can even purge unpleasant memories. Others try to cope with problems over a drink or two, only to find out that they can swim. As if it was that easy...
Many projects start with the Presentation of Proposals.
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