Strategy Statement:

iron triangleAre you agile? Can organization still be maintained in a flexible environment? Many people confuse agility and chaos, flexibility and poor planning, be sure to base your answer on advocating first and avoiding second. It is also well known, that any project is executed under certain constraints, which traditionally include scope, time and cost.

Those three constrains are known as “iron-triangle” due to the fact that as in triangle changing one side would lead to affecting two others, changing one constrain cannot be changed without impact on the others.

Frequent changes in priorities usually mean scope change which directly affects cost (budget) and time (schedule). This is true for both formal large scale projects such as building of a bridge and small projects such as house cleaning.

The construction of Sydney Opera House is one of the classical examples of vague scope and poor planning. The project started in 1957 with initial estimates of $7 million of cost and 6 years of work. Without clear plan and with constant scope change the project was falling apart.

As an example during construction phase multipurpose opera hall was redesign into concert hall which caused the layout of the interiors to be changed, and the stage machinery, already designed and fitted inside the major hall, was thrown away. A theatre, a cinema and a library were added, and the minor hall was drastically redesigned. These changes were primarily because of poor original planning and lack of scope definition, which did not make it clear how the Opera House was to be used which in turn lead to constant priority changes as new requirements were discovered.

The Opera House was formally completed in 1973, having cost $102 million the project was completed ten years late and over-budget by more than fourteen times.

Sample Response:

Changes in priorities are not something extraordinary in our industry. The way we handle and prepare for the priority switches make all the difference.

When priorities change, the two things that are generally impacted are the schedule and cost and I do my best to communicate it clearly to the management the severity of the impact.

I see frequent changes in priorities as weak definition of the scope, which might be due to nature of business, poor management, force major circumstances and many other reasons. In such cases, my approach is to split the job on as small pieces as possible, so then the priority changes won’t leave any part of the project part-done.

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