As you may have guessed – my thinking tends to bias towards “systems thinking”. (And in Wendy’s utopian fantasyland – these systems result in projects. Because I like clean end points.)
What does this look like?
1) Is there a distinct deliverable involved?
If yes, then AWESOME! I can do my planning process, templatize this and make it repeatable!
I am lazy. If I have a reference plan, that’s less mental bandwidth I need to use to figure out what I need to do next. I can then spend that bandwidth on creating the deliverable. Win for all!
If no, I will still look to systematize whatever I am doing.
For example, I am currently refining my client intake process based on what I learned over the past year.
Could this be a project? Yes – if I define the end point as “List of intake questions.” Or even “Documented Standard of Practice for Client Intake.” But that is not the end point.
The purpose of the effort is making sure I get the correct information to decide whether to take on the client and, if we decide to work together, start providing value to them out of the gate.
No defined “end” – therefore, not a project.
I consider systemization part of “project thinking”. Even in Agile, project managers bias towards planning (if only for a sprint cycle) and process. And I haven’t met a project manager yet who isn’t a fan of some level of standardization of process.
2) Is there a good chance I will be doing this again?
If yes, then AWESOME! I’ve already done the planning once, verified the plan during execution, made the appropriate adjustments and I can use what I learned the next time.
If no, then STILL AWESOME! I can share what I did for others who will be doing a similar thing. And, if I do wind up doing it again many years down the road, I have the reference plan. Win for all!
Again, the “plan” doesn’t need to be for a defined process. It could be a process design and resulting support materials.
My thoughts need considerable refinement – but this is where I am headed.
The DC Chapter of the Project Management Institute recently did a fantastic podcast that talks more about this type of thinking. You should be able to access the podcast without a membership. The first half is definitely worth a listen.