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A Vision for a New Era of Project Management – Bootstrapping a Solar System Civilization

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy asked for entrepreneurs and visionaries to submit their ideas for bootstrapping a solar system civilization.  OK, here you go.

The Inefficiency Tax – Huge Friction At Any Mass

Regardless of how we attempt our immigration to other worlds, bootstrap or pay today’s estimated full price, an inefficiency tax will be levied.  In a 2012 study, McKinsey & Company found “On average, large IT projects run 45 percent over budget and 7 percent over time, while delivering 56 percent less value than predicted.”  It is very likely that the average inefficiency tax is more like 50 percent, as IT projects are much more mature than most corporate projects.

However, we do not have to pay this tax.  We can overcome this tax.  We can enjoy refunds from an ever increasing efficiency.

The greatest payoff, one that will impact every facet of the civilization of space, is to become project management optimum.  Projects are the delivery mechanism, the new assembly line, for anything of real value.  In fact, Tom Peters has said, “All work of economic value is project work.”  Yet, due to our inefficiency in planning and executing project work, everything we do costs more, takes longer, and delivers less than we planned.  If we have any hope of becoming solar system migratory, we must become project management optimum.  Project management optimum delivers at six sigma: on time, within ±5 percent of cost, and with more scope/stories than originally planned.  Project management optimum will stop the levying of an inefficiency tax.

Many trends are moving us toward project management optimum.  Overall, project management maturity has increased, with the importance of the project now seen in all areas of the corporate world.  Marketing gets that it too is project driven.  The CFO has become a believer.  GSA even conducted a vision for the future on Challenge.gov for public sector program management.  However, the most impactful trend is the over hyped, yet powerful reality of big data.  Big data – the variable resolver.

That’s what projects do, they resolve variables.  At their best, projects anticipate variables.  At their optimum, projects identify and help communicate the choices of the variables while recommending a best course of action.  As projects become more complex, variables increase on the exponential slope.  While we humans are great at spoting patterns and trends, project management artifacts do not lend themsleves to easy pattern or trend recognition.  We need to rethink the summation of project artifacts in project management optimum.

Thus, the call for mining lexemes in my Challenge.gov winning paper.  Lexeme is defined as a basic lexical unit of a lexicon, consisting of one word or several words, considered as an abstract unit, and applied to a family of words related by form or meaning.  Semantic similarity.

Amazon buying recommendations, Google search, Facebook friend do-you-knows and NSA phone call metadata analysis have demonstrated that graph theory and small world algorithms are very accurate forecasters.  To get to project management optimum, we must build context specific graphs of lexemes at work in projects.  We must build these models pan-project, pan-program, and pan-nation/language.  We must define protocols for sharing lexemes and their metadata.  We must discover new insights into language and the short term evolution of language to identify trending lexemes that are nearing meme-birth.  Memes, when viral, are the project’s best friend, yet many times, its worst enemy.  Best to know which.

I believe like Carl Sagan that, “Exploration is in our nature.  We began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still.  We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean.  We are ready at last to set sail for the stars.”  It’s a long trip, though.  Let’s start our journey with project management optimum.  Of all the technologies that we will have to enhance or invent, becoming project management optimum will be by far the cheapest.  However, it may well have the most impact.