Unexpectedly Intriguing!
March 31, 2005

The most recent episode of The Apprentice offers a classic case study of how a project should be managed. In the episode, the two teams "Magna" and "Net Worth" were given the assignment of creating a "Do-It-Yourself" (DIY) workshop for this week's product placement sponsor Home Depot.

Each team's choice of a DIY project directly sealed their fates in the episode. Net Worth made the unfortuante choice of a rolling kitchen work table, which required a substantial amount of manual labor to successfully assemble. While the tip-off to the team that this particular workshop project was a poor choice should have come while they practiced assembling the table, the team made the critical mistake of not discarding the product and choosing a different one around which to build their workshop.

In effect, the team became too emotionally invested in making the rolling table project work. This irrational investment could be seen by their unwillingness to write-off the time that they had already invested and considering changing their product to one that offered a better opportunity for success while they still had time to do so. Eventually, this irrationality led directly to the team's failure, as when it came time to run their workshop, they were as spectacularly unsuccessful at assembling the table as they had been in practice.

By contrast, the DIY project selected by Magna's project manager was a model of simplicity, as noted by Suzanne Condie Lambert:

Craig informs Magna that its project is: a box. The box does not roll, fly, vibrate or explode. It's: a box.

It was so simple that the team's members all questioned whether or not it was a good choice. Fortunately for the team, project manager Craig stuck to his guns in selecting the project and the team enjoyed considerable success in running their workshop, which engaged families in the making and personalization of the box. In fact, if you're looking for something to do this weekend, your local Home Depot may be hosting it's own box workshop.

From a project management standpoint, the real secret to Magna's success in managing their assignment was scope control. By selecting a very simple product, Craig ensured that his team would not get bogged down by complexity in the way that Net Worth did. By keeping the underlying scope of the project simple, Magna made it possible to add a significant amount variability to their workshop, while still keeping the overall project simple. It's a lesson that more businesses, and project managers, could stand to learn.

About Political Calculations

Welcome to the blogosphere's toolchest! Here, unlike other blogs dedicated to analyzing current events, we create easy-to-use, simple tools to do the math related to them so you can get in on the action too! If you would like to learn more about these tools, or if you would like to contribute ideas to develop for this blog, please e-mail us at:

ironman at politicalcalculations.com

Thanks in advance!

Recent Posts

Stock Charts and News

Most Popular Posts
Quick Index

Site Data

This site is primarily powered by:

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

CSS Validation

Valid CSS!

RSS Site Feed

AddThis Feed Button


The tools on this site are built using JavaScript. If you would like to learn more, one of the best free resources on the web is available at W3Schools.com.

Other Cool Resources

Blog Roll

Market Links

Useful Election Data
Charities We Support
Shopping Guides
Recommended Reading
Recently Shopped

Seeking Alpha Certified

Legal Disclaimer

Materials on this website are published by Political Calculations to provide visitors with free information and insights regarding the incentives created by the laws and policies described. However, this website is not designed for the purpose of providing legal, medical or financial advice to individuals. Visitors should not rely upon information on this website as a substitute for personal legal, medical or financial advice. While we make every effort to provide accurate website information, laws can change and inaccuracies happen despite our best efforts. If you have an individual problem, you should seek advice from a licensed professional in your state, i.e., by a competent authority with specialized knowledge who can apply it to the particular circumstances of your case.