Project Management

Boyd's Law in Project Management

New Jersey Chapter

Charles Borrelli is an IT Project Management Consultant in New Jersey.

As teams do repetitive tasks, there is the assumption that there will be improvements in performance, quality and time. However, how does the good project manager account for this? There is the risk of building it into the plan since measuring this may be tenuous. Overtly building it in may create unrealistic expectations regarding delivery. However, there are many useful aspects of iteration that a project manager can use to gauge a project better.

What is Boyd’s Law?
The history around Boyd’s Law of Iteration seems somewhat inconsistent, but common elements about the history are as follows: Colonel John Boyd was very interested in aerial dog fights from the 1950s and was surprised that a US F-86 could out-perform a MIG-15, even though the latter was a supposedly superior aircraft. For a dogfight, the general consensus was that the pilot needed to observe, orient, plan or act better.

However, after much study, Boyd discovered that the primary determinant to winning dogfights was observing, orienting, planning and acting faster. He was able to pinpoint that one of the key factors affecting pilots’ ability to react was that the F-86 had a hydraulic stick and the MIG had a manual. Through repetition, the F-86 pilots were able to perform faster.

So how does this apply to project management? I have had some recent discussion with other PMs, and the …

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