It is still more than three weeks till Halloween but stores have already sold most of their spooky selections and are starting to put their Christmas stock out on the shelves. This Halloween may generate more anticipation than in previous years since last year's festivities were curtailed in many cities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Halloween holds a special place in my heart as it provides an opportunity for everyone to express their creativity. For the kids, they get a chance to dress up as their favorite heroes or villains while us adults get the chance to decorate our homes in readiness for the hallowed night.
To put you in the mood for October 31, here are a few project management lessons derived from Halloween.
Less is more
It can be tempting to go over the top with decorations in the theme of Clark Griswold's lighting excesses in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation but resist. Remember that the best scares come from what isn't seen but is implied.
When your stakeholders are trying to throw everything and the kitchen sink into a project's scope, help them to focus on the minimum required to achieve the expected outcomes. This will help to contain costs, reduce risks and deliver value sooner.
A little risk management goes a long way
It might be urban legend, but do you really want to bite into a piece of candy and find a pin or some other nasty foreign object inside? Waiting till we get home and have our parents' check our loot is a safe, simple practice. Wear whatever costume you want, but make sure there are some reflector strips so that drivers will see you as you are running across the street.
To be effective, risk management needs to be perceived as adding value and pragmatic. If you have to do a hard sell to convince your stakeholders to respond to risks, it's likely you who are doing something wrong.
Plan, but be willing to change your plans
Prior experience in a neighborhood helps kids to plan their trick or treating routes to receive the maximum goodies for the minimum effort. But it is also possible that over the course of a year, the treat supply dynamics can change as people move. As such, it is a good idea to stay in touch with our buddies so that if they are getting handsomely rewarded on their streets while ours is a bust we can head their way.
A plan is only as good as the assumptions supporting it. When those assumptions have been invalidated, we need to be egoless about the plan itself and change it to better reflect reality.
Follow these simple lessons if you'd like the project management Great Pumpkin to reward you this Halloween!