Book review: Chaos Manifesto 2014. Value versus Success & the Orthogonals

2014BEvery year the Standish Group published among other titles such as the Chaos Report, the Chaos Manifesto. In this post I will look at the ‘Chaos Manifesto 2014. Value versus Success & the Orthogonals’.

I always discuss during my PRINCE2 and project management training classes the definition of project success. When do we call a project successful? If I look at a project that costed fourteen times more than was budgeted, and took 10 years extra to deliver, you can ask if this is a success. If we take the triple constraint as a starting point (OTOBOS: On Time, On Budget, On Scope) than we would probably say definitely not. If I say this project created the Opera House in Sydney, the landmark of Sydney, then there will be a lot of people who will say this construction project is a great success.

I tell my students that when looking at the success of a project there are different views. If you look through the eyes of the project manager the triple constraint, OTOBOS, can be leading to define success but if you look through the eyes of the project executive sponsor, the triple constraint can still be important but it are the ultimate goals the sponsor wants to achieve which are key to define success.

A project that delivers in line with the triple constraint can still be a failure in the eyes of the project executive sponsor.

Can we blame the project manager for this situation?  This depends on the project mandate. If, for example, the project manager has to deliver a new administration system, processes, and marketing material et cetera and the assumption is that the organization will sell more than 100.000 products it’s up the the sales department to sell and not the project manager. See here one of the strengths of the PRINCE2 principle ‘continuous business justification’. If at some point during the execution of the project it becomes clear their is no viable business case anymore we have to stop the project.

The Standish Group always used the triple constraint to show numbers of successful, challenged and failed projects. They now call these figures the classic figures.

In this Chaos Manifesto 2014 the Standish Group details why their definition of success (based on the triple constraint) is often in conflict with true value. True value is in line with what I call ‘success’ through the eyes of the project executive sponsor.

The Standish Group describes a better way to increase value of your project investments. They call this the value-based approach and recommend to use SAFE projects. SAFE projects are Simple, Absorbent, Fast and Economical.

In this manifesto they discuss in detail the Success versus Value orthogonal. To achieve a value-based environment, the Standish Group recommends you to adopt 20 rules based on this Success versus Value orthogonal. These 20 rules are divided in 5 distinct sub-orthogonals:

  1. Inspirational versus institutional
  2. Risk versus comfort
  3. Velocity versus control
  4. Less versus more
  5. Humanistic versus mechanical

Dia1See the one-pager (chaos manifesto 2014) showing all 20 rules dived across these five sub-orthogonals. In this manifesto you will get several charts based on figures from their rebuild database. E.g. projected and actual SAFE projects by value, value by spending, executive sponsor skills by high and low value projects, SAFE projects by resolution, features used and features used in SAFE projects, resolution by EPPM tools and without EPPM tools.

One response to “Book review: Chaos Manifesto 2014. Value versus Success & the Orthogonals

  1. Pingback: Overview of my year 2016 book reviews | Henny Portman's Blog

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