I had just finished running my morning workout. The GPS had been wonky, and instead of showing me running my normal sedentary 10-11 minute miles, it showed a couple of 4 minute miles intervals during my run.
I went into the house and deadpanned to my wife that I had just run a couple of 4 minute miles. Her response? “Wow!” She was serious.
Now, my wife is no mental slacker. She graduated Summa Cum Laude in computer science, was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and was then recruited by IBM. On top of that she is a sports enthusiast and understands the significance of the 4 minute mile, but she is not a runner.
However, for a moment in time, she believed that I had actually run a 4 minute mile. How could that be, I wondered?
I run a lot. I talk to folks about running, a lot. People come to me to get help with starting a running program. But I’m a pretty mediocre runner and I just like to run. And, with all that activity and noise around running, she accepted — for a moment — the notion I could have worked myself up to be a four minute miler.
Another runner, I suspect, would have been immediately skeptical at my comment. Their skepticism would have been grounded in the many miles they’ve personally run. They know, in their gut, that someone who has been running 8+ minutes miles for all their life, is highly unlikely — though not impossible I suppose — to suddenly one day start running a 4 minute mile.
I’ve seen this same thing in business and in project management. I recall the various productivity gains claimed by methodology advocates (10x productivity, etc.). When we sit in on presentations and everyone is saying and reporting on what a great thing this new approach is, we slowly start to buy in, feel that it must be real. Gee, we think, if we only get a 2X increase in speed and not 10X, that would be just fine. Let’s do it!
The best protection against this kind of thought creep is nothing more than experience. But I’m talking about experience in doing this kind of stuff. I’m not talking about experience by reading and attending conferences and webcasts. I’m talking about just giving things a try.
For more see We Need To Understand This In Order To Manage Well
If we want to speed things up, then we make changes and see what happens. If we want to improve quality, then push for it, and then make changes that support it.
For more see The One Perfect Project Management Methodology
The upside to this, besides possibly getting useful things done, is that when we hear a claim, we know almost immediately in our gut how reasonable the claim is. Yes, I suppose, we might miss out in the once in a lifetime opportunity where it really was a 10x benefit, but we’ll still have a pretty successful career and a good life until then.
How do you go about seeing through the hype in a new methodology or tool?