The Project Management Inukshuk: Precision, Patience, Balance

A few months ago,The Project Management Inukshuk: Precision, Patience, Balance Articles I built an Inukshuk, a cultural object that the native people of northern Canada once used (perhaps some still do) as a marker for navigating through the flat, featureless tundra. According to one researcher, an “Inukshuk can be small or large, a single rock, several rocks balanced on each other, round boulders or flat. Built from whatever stones are at hand, each one is unique. The arrangement of stones indicates the purpose of the marker. The directions of arms or legs could indicate the direction of an open channel for navigation.”

Some Inukshuks are composed of hundreds of rocks ranging from the size of tires to the size of peas, making the stack look like it could collapse at any moment. When I had tried to build one this summer, even at three feet tall, it took a lot of work. The balance of the inukshuk depended upon remarkable precision in the placement of each individual rock, and if I tried to speed things managed service provider up, it would only result in starting over.

Sometimes, project management requires such precision and patience. If things are taken too quickly or carelessly, a project may crash. Say, for example, a project is undertaken to create a product or service for a customer. Making sure everything is constructed properly is necessary for the customer to be satisfied. Even the slightest imbalances can cause the customer to turn to the competitors for options. This is particularly true in the IT industry. For instance, little unmanaged bugs can cause whole software programs to crash. A tiny glitch in a server could cause sensitive information to be accessible by the wrong people.

In the overall hierarchical management structure, these rules can also apply. From task to project to program to portfolio, everything must be carefully placed for a strong standing business. Even the small tasks, like the small rocks of the Inukshuk, can make a big difference. In fact, when I built my Inukshuk, the big rocks depended on the strategic placement of dozens of small rocks. Similarly, major projects and programs must be carefully managed in order to have a stable portfolio.

This is not to say that companies can’t be successful by being sloppy with their projects. Sometimes it is necessary for certain processes to be skipped or sped up. However, when it comes down to innovation and quality, it seems evident to me that the most successful companies are those that have built things to last, spending the time and patience to provide the best products or services. Like the arctic tundra, a new idea is an open, flat space that has never before been explored, and a good standard of project management is the Inukshuk that points the way to a future of successful projects.