Continuous ImprovementProject Management Office

A Lesson for PMOs from the Marine Fish Tank

A post at PM Majik uses the tragic tale of a fish tank to remind PMOs to keep things simple. The author and his wife decided to buy a marine fish tank so they could house an awesome pufferfish, and they needed to buy filters, chemical salt, and other assorted materials to ensure the fish would thrive. And it worked out great, so they decided to buy more fish—and ultimately another tank, with even more filters and the like to go with it. But it became a bit too much ecosystem to handle, resulting in the deaths of several fish—including the beloved pufferfish.

The author just went overboard with his ambitions, which is a real danger present in budding PMOs as well. If PMOs bite off more than they can chew, then they will actually accomplish very little, which might result in executive dissatisfaction and PMO shutdown. The additional lesson is that processes must be kept as simple as possible—both for purposes of comprehension and to maximize the odds that people actually abide by the process. The author evidently could not wrap his head around and adhere to all the processes of running healthy marine fish tanks, and look where that got him.

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