One size fits one

Neil ButlerUntypical Thoughts

The other day, I bought a new football supporter’s scarf which had the following written on the label – one size fits most. It is certainly the first time I have seen that used on a garment but sadly, one size fits most – or worse, one size fits all – seems to be an over-used philosophy in many organisations and on many projects.

One thing I have learned during my years of managing change and, more recently, transformation projects is that the only thing we can be certain of is that one size fits one.

Many people I have worked with over that period of 20+ years have undertaken qualifications in programs like Prosci, Prince 2, Lean, Six Sigma and, most recently, Agile – and have learned plenty. The big mistake I see is when they then come back to the work place and try to fit a program of work to what is often an inflexible, structured methodology, creating inefficiencies, blockages and frustration because, its seems, they feel that the process is more important than the outcome. We end up with unnecessary documentation and checkpoints because that’s what the methodology insists upon. We end up with funky sound terminology (Scrum Master, tribes, anyone?)

Don’t get me wrong – I am not saying that these programs and protocols are worthless and that they shouldn’t be utilised. So much of what is contained in the training programs and the methodologies is worthwhile but NOT when the adherence to these processes, activities and terminology is more important than the job at hand.

If all projects were identical then having a rigid approach to completing them would make enormous sense. But, as we know, every project is different and therefore requires a different approach to ensure success. Utilise the practices and processes in your project – just don’t let the methodology become the be all and end all.

One size does not fit all. In fact, in my experience, one size rarely fits many. My starting point is always one size fits one – use the methodology as an approach and then be flexible.

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