Friday, December 5, 2008

Front-End Loading vs A Few Good Minds

I've blogged about Front-End Loading (FEL) before and it came up again yesterday. I listened quietly as someone was advocating FEL as the answer to project success ..... but as he went on to describe it as a tool to reduce the uncertainty and ambiguity about the expectations of business users my guard went up.

I certainly do believe in FEL but not simply as an excuse for large teams of analysts trying to determine what has to be done. In my experience this just leads to further confusion and time-wasting. The more people on a project the more likely it is that it goes off the rails.

When I say FEL it is more about having the TIME to get things right not simply the RESOURCES. In fact, I know that the fewer people that are brought on to establish a coherent picture of what is needed, the greater the chances of success.

It is the coherence that is so hard to establish - the mission that will drive and focus the team towards the necessary outcomes, and not be distracted by inconsequential issues that tend to cloud any initiative.

How do you get that coherence ..... well, it may sound arrogant but what is needed is a few good minds (or AFGM - an more politically and context sensitive variant of a few good men).

Now try and tell q senior executives that their urgent project will be undertaken over the next few months with a team of less than five! That's what I call real front-end loading ..... think time.