Show me how to say no & the link with triple constraints

He arrived late, around 45 minutes late to be precise. He had been waiting in a traffic queue caused because 3 cars were involved in a serious accident. He was sweating and looked glad to be in the training room. I offered him some coffee which he accepted and quietly sat down.

I mentioned to him we were at that part of the project management course where I wanted to clarify learning needs and would he say what he wanted to get from this 2 day course. Still hot and sweating, he stood up and pointed his finger at me and said:

“I want you to show me how to say no!”

There is always a first time for everything and this was my first time – no one had ever asked me this before. I suggested he sat down and went on to say you never say no directly, but you use project management tools and techniques to help you deliver that message.

Now I know how to say no!

We moved on from there and I stated to talk about triple constraints and our late arrival stood up again…”Now I know,” pointing at the triple constraints diagram, “how to say no”. The group were startled by this and he went on to explain how he would use the diagram:

• to help him and his manager to identify the key driver for the project. He now realised that once agreed, the driver would not be moveable i.e. if it is quality; this is the part of the project that must be achieved. Of course, this causes us to look at time and cost to ensure quality is achieved

• help him in de-scoping a project – he suggested there was often pressure on him and his colleagues to deliver. This pressure often resulted in changes; he even went on to suggest that project changes will happen and when one of the 3 areas (quality/cost/time) changes, adjustments will need to be made to the other areas

• education – he saw a big need here; to educate the project sponsor in the use of this model

• helping identify priorities – he had 4 projects and he could use the model to help him identify (through questioning the sponsor based on the model) which one was highest priority

For him, the model was essential and I am pleased to say he rated the course as excellent.

Use the model to help you deliver your projects effectively

So, how can you use this model? Here are a few ways.

• are you clear what is driving your project? Is it a quality project, cost driven or do you have to hit a specific date?

• once identified, do you guard the key project driver and if it needs to change do you adjust the other 2?

• does your project sponsor understand the key concepts behind the model? How much are you doing to ensure they understand this approach?

Of course, there are many uses of this tool, let me know if you know of any more.

As I read recently, you can have the project good, fast or cheap, but only 1…..maybe, just maybe you should tell your sponsor this.

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3 Responses to Show me how to say no & the link with triple constraints

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Show me how to say no & the link with triple constraints | Project Management Training with Ron Rosenhead --

  2. catalysis says:

    good, fast or cheap . . . you can have *2*!

  3. Well spotted catalysis….what an error to make! Thanks, appreciate the time taken to correct this.


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