A lot happens before ideas become solutions.
At ElixWare we want to bring you more than just great, affordable software. We want to let you know how and why we do what we do.
Our Ruminations blog will bring you insights into how we got here and some of the things we consider when trying to help you run your business. We hope it gives you a better understanding of how we strive to better serve your needs.
Spoiler alert: if you haven't seen A Charlie Brown Christmas yet, you should watch it first.
Today I am going to use this holiday classic as a metaphor for project management (and try not to ruin it for you). Wish me luck. Throughout this post I'll be referring to the Christmas tree selection project as "the project". When I'm done deconstructing ACBC we're going to have two possible conclusions:
In order to play along I'm going to ask you to pick a Peanuts character. You can be:
As you continue reading, try to see "the project" from the point of view of the Peanuts character you chose.
When Lucy counsels Charlie Brown on phobias, she speaks in psychology jargon. This isn't helpful at all as it clearly frustrates Charlie Brown. Substitute "technology" for "psychology" and this can sound all too familiar to most small business owners.
Did you notice: When Sally dictates her letter to Santa it sounds like her project's wish list.
When Charlie Brown arrives at rehearsal it is reminiscent of an initial project planning meeting. Charlie Brown feels out of his element (much like a small business owner not comfortable being in a position of managing a software project). Lucy is her quintessential self (attempting to exert undue influence over the play "project"). And Linus feels like he cannot memorize his lines (e.g., do his part or contribute anything meaningful). We also have Frida, who insists she can't go on, and Sally, who is thrilled with her assignment. Ring any bells?
Then Charlie Brown has an epiphany: they need a Christmas tree. In Charlie Brown's mind a Christmas tree will set the proper mood and save the play "project". Lucy pounces on this opportunity and encourages Charlie Brown go pick out a Christmas tree while she "handles this crowd".
When Charlie Brown and Linus set off, they have been charged by Lucy to find "a great big shiny aluminum Christmas tree" (this is "the project" Charlie Brown will be judged by). This assignment is analogous to deciding on a large, off-the-shelf commercial software package. But Charlie Brown picks something that he feels meets his requirements: a small wooden tree with Christmas spirit. Upon his return Charlie Brown is lambasted for his decision — a fear all owners and project manager have regarding software projects.
Eventually everything works out for the best. The project team embraces and supports Charlie Brown's decision. They all work together to overcome what they view is lacking in the Christmas tree. This is not how things work in the real world, where effort, payroll and disruptions can have a negative effect on morale and productivity.
Though the Christmas tree met Charlie Brown's requirements for (and definition of) Christmas spirit, it did not meet the organization's expectations. Charlie Brown went with his emotions. Though this can feel satisfactory if you own the business, it may not be the best way to approach a business decision that will affect your business for years to come.
Technology projects often feel overwhelming. Making a decision that makes you feel better now may not serve your business well in the long-term.
This situation is not uncommon for small business owners. Technology seems to encroach into more aspects of their businesses every day. Making good decisions becomes even harder as more and more options become available. These days Decision Fatigue and Decision Paralysis are a fact of life for small business owners. This can result in decisions that are not always good long-term solutions for our businesses.
Here at ElixWare, we focus on the right custom solution for your business so you can focus on what you do best — running your business. We make things easier by narrowing down all of the choices, so you don't have to.
Lucy knew Charlie Brown was lacking Christmas spirit when she sent him to choose a Christmas tree. Assigning responsibilities and accountability to individuals who are not likely to succeed is a failure on the part of management, not the team member. Good decisions start at the top. If you're a small business owner you need to build a project team that can be successful, even if that means seeking help from experts like us.
No matter which side you come down on, I think we all can agree that A Charlie Brown Christmas is a holiday classic. After reading this post, hopefully it still is.