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The Project Plan and the Potbellied Pig

The Project Plan and the Potbellied Pig

A good project plan is an important aspect of the planning process and will be used to guide both project execution and project control.  The project plan will identify what the objective of the project is and how you will manage the project.  I look at the project schedule as an extension of the project plan which provides the detailed tasks required to deliver value to the customer.  It is important to build an effective yet efficient project plan and schedule.  Don’t have tasks that are unnecessary, instead include only tasks which will deliver the scope of the project, and only the scope.  I was recently reminded how sometimes you can overdo your project plan.

Buddy the Pig:  The Plan

My family has a potbellied pig named Buddy.  Buddy needed to be moved from his current home to a new home about 3 miles away.  I was proud of the project plan I developed in my mind.  It was an elaborate scheme to outwit Buddy, who is a very smart, yet stubborn pig.  If he doesn’t want to go somewhere…he won’t. 

My plan included building a ramp which would lead Buddy into the back of a trailer.  I could then haul him to his new home.  I knew Buddy would not voluntarily walk up the ramp, so I placed food along the ramp into the trailer to entice him along the way.  There was a risk that this smart pig would realize what I was doing so I also developed a contingency plan.  I figured that I could slip a rope around his body while he was eating and drag him up the ramp into the trailer.  The plan was in place and I was quite proud of my intelligence.

Buddy the Pig:  Executing the Plan

Immediately Buddy was leery of the ramp.  He did enjoy his treats as far as he could reach so long as his back heals were firmly planted on the ground.  After about 30 minutes of coaxing Buddy along by adding additional food, I decided it was time for the contingency plan.  Armed with my rope, once again I taunted Buddy with more food.  Although I was able to get the rope around Buddy, I found that the contingency plan was also failing; however I also realized I forgot to include in my plan a good set of ear plugs due to the loud pig squealing.  After about an hour, Buddy was still not in the trailer, but he sure was getting a lot of food.

Buddy the Pig:  I over planned

Finally, I realized my elaborate plan was not going to work.  In a last ditch effort, I completely threw the project plan out and coaxed Buddy to the edge of the trailer with some more food and simply bent over and lifted him into the trailer.

Moral of the story

When planning your project, always look for the most efficient and effective way to meet the goal of the project.

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