Friday, October 12, 2012

Your Own Personal Project Life Cycle

Have you ever thought about starting a project so much that you reached the point sheer excitement with every passing day?  No, well maybe you were just so excited that you couldn't wait to get started.  Finally, you reach the point where you dig in your heels and decide to dive right in.  Time goes on, and your excitement builds and builds.  The project continues along its merry way and everything seems good, until you reach your first hurdle.  Something bad or unforeseen happens and throws you off the rails.  You try your best but still have some setbacks.  After some hard work, you figure out a solution to your problem and your project continues, but you now have less enthusiasm than you previously had.  Time goes on, the project runs its course, and then you reach a point where you either abandon the project or phase it out.  Sound familiar?  This type of life cycle occurs in many different forms in life, and I submit the below model to help describe it:

A general Life Cycle Chart applied to business
 The chart listed is the general life cycle for most industries, however I believe it can apply to much more than just industries.  If you look at the subsequent stages (Embryonic, Growth, Shakeout, Mature, Decline), you can almost imagine a person's life cycle fitting into this category.  You are conceived, born and grow, experience a couple mistakes or setbacks in life, reach a state of maturity, and then gradually age and pass away. 

In the business world, each section can help describe where a particular industry is currently located.  This is often helpful when you are deciding whether an investment in a certain company is worth it.  CD makers are probably in the mature or declining end of the spectrum, whereas nanotech companies are most likely in the Embryonic stage as their just developing the technology for the industry. 

Many similarities from this chart can be drawn towards projects and experiences in your own life.  As the first scenario illustrated, projects tend to operate on the same life cycle whether it be work related or your own personal hobby or project.  Having the ability to understand where you reside on this curve will allow you to better understand the types of challenges ahead of you.  If you are designing some new invention and it's been smooth sailing thus far, chances are you are still in the Growth stage of your project and will soon meet the Shakeout phase.  Shakeouts in the business term generally indicate a series of industry bankruptcies and consolidations, but I'd like you to think of this in more broad terms as a challenge to your overall goal.  Everyone goes through these periods, and it's only through your drive and perseverance that you can overcome these.

The lesson in all of this is that it benefits you to think of project life cycles in the above format in order to understand what you should be focusing on.  Once you understand where you sit, you can begin to develop a strategy for the remainder of the plan.

Wonderful Moment of the Day: First day my wife is back from a conference after being away for 5 days!

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