Outdated Success Criteria

14 Comments

I know this is going to probably get me some “hate” comments.  It seems like if I write about anything but a zombie, that’s what happens. But I do like to write about topics that make people stop and think. Think of this post a bridge between a historical project management and futuristic project management.  Let’s think about success in both an objective and subjective way.

I’m seeing more and more topics about the measurement of success.  Geoff Mattie just wrote a post over at the PMI Voices site, titled Can Agile Conquer the Physics of the Triple Constraint?

Geoff refers to Triple Constraint and states

The “iron triangle” as some refer to it, defines three pillars: cost, scope and time. It asserts that you have to prioritize the three with an understanding that trying to have all of them at the same time compromises quality.

I applaud Geoff in his zealousness and hope this works for him and hit customers.  Being his blog post is on the PMI website, I want to point out the the iron triangle is not in the PMBOK.  Rather, on page 6, it states

Managing a project typically includes… balancing the competing project constraints including, but not limited to Scope, Quality, Schedule, Budget, Resources, and Risk.

I remember a few years back, when taking the PMP exam, I had a question about typical project constraints.  The answer was not limited to 3 or even 4 “pillars”.  So, where am I going with this?

graphic by Jessica Clarke

I’m curious why people continue to measure the success of a project, merely on the basis of an iron triangle.  I think this concept is outdated and perhaps created by a project manager to help an executive understand project management at a 100,000 foot view.  I am also curious why many continue to use the Chaos report, (which leverages triple constraint) as the de facto report of industry success or failure.  I am not debating that it has historical significance.  But, I am questioning if it should be the way of measuring project success.

Jeff Sutherland has a blog post about the happiness metric. In his post, he mentions Tony Hsieh of Zappos.  I recently read the book Delivering Happiness by the Zappos CEO.  Again, what’s my point?  Perhaps the Chaos report should introduce happiness or customer satisfaction at part of its success criteria.

Too subjective you think?  I think not!

I recently saw a presentation by Sanjiv Augustine as part of the VersionOne AgileLive Webinar Series

One of the concepts presented in Sanjiv’s presentation was a NPS (Net Promoter Score) metric.  Think of it as a customer satisfaction or “happiness” metric.

NPS is based on the fundamental perspective that every company’s customers can be divided into three categories: Detractors, Passives, and Promoters. By asking one simple question — How likely are you to recommend [Company X] to a colleague or friend? — you can track these groups and get a clear measure of company performance through its customers’ eyes.

So, what is the Zappos NPS?  In a YouTube video of Tony Hsieh at the NPS Conference  (1-26-09), Tony said Zappos offered random email surveys that resulted in an 83% NPS and phone surveys resulted in a 90% NPS.  Though they lose money on some of their customers, they are an overwhelming success.

Do you believe the Standish Group Chaos Report should include NPS to define success? Are the original classifications outdated?