I recently toured the Empire State Building and was struck by the project plan for its construction:
To put this in perspective here are a few facts about the project:
- Tallest building in the world at the time
- 410 days to complete
- 7,000,000 person-hours
- 3,400 concurrent workers at peak
- 5 deaths (considering the working conditions it’s amazing there weren’t more)
- $25M construction cost (in 1931 dollars)
- 47 tasks on the plan (66 if you include sub-tasks)
- Completed on time and under budget
- 83 years later it is still fully operational
Now think about the last project you worked on and ask yourself:
- Is this the first time something like this has ever been attempted?
- Does my project involve as many people?
- Does my project risk lives?
- Is my project budget (in today’s dollars) as large?
- Will the thing you are building be around in 83 years?
and finally, how does my project plan compare? I have personally seen a lot of project plans and every single one of them was substantially longer and more complicated, while the answer to all of the above questions was “no”. How about you?