Thursday, March 24, 2016

What do you think of a project life cycle...? Well, whatever you think, you'd better check your idea against the global reference of project management maturity model, sec 2.4. It starts from point A and ends at B and runs along a series of phases until it is closed. Where is the cycle in that definition? Isn't a cycle a closed loop? I have objected to this idea that does imply a closure and means a serial process, there is no end meeting its start. Evidently this is a naive reading of the definition of life cycle or closure. The 18 months of the closeout phase of a project is not that fresh starting date, 18 months ago, project, people, and their collective memories have advanced a lot in the space of learning, doing differently better next time and of course, their ground where they built their project is moving all the time in spacetime, we say, we do not care about these things, that would be fine. But still we need to say what we really mean, why not say instead project life series? My point is with Ed Deming's plan-do-check-act (or plan-do-study-act) and the geometrical basis of the life cycle that is not talked about nor communicated. I have a conjecture that life cycle must be closed otherwise you could walk into the next project with more gaps and holes in your understanding, there are methods and processes to close this complete phase, even missed on the reference guide of project management. Geometrically you can say that Euler characteristic or (PM BOK model of project) life cycle is one, 1! I have explained my reasoning in my path finder paper.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The idea of a simplex

Simplicial: from or of simplex, a simple shape like a triangle; a triangle, a connected three-sides, is an example of 2-simplex, that is how we learned to draw a triangle on a piece of paper. From three vertices, we can create at most a triangle, a 2-simplex. In three dimensions, we can trace with four vertices, a tetrahedron, also called a 3-simplex. In four dimensions, we will have a 4-simplex, think of a 3-simplex with one vertex located in a dimension of time. Our idea of spacetime, a mathematical structure of four dimensions, three dimensions of space, and a fourth one for time can also be similar to a 4-simplex. Of course this is an approximation. There a lot of technicalities involved for example when you make a statement like: spacetime is a 4-simplex! If you could really prove that consistent across physics and mathematics, then you have done a lot. Here, I am interested in the relational aspects of simplexes (or simplices) extended to higher dimensions. By higher dimension, I am not necessarily talking about hyper space or a super space, your typical Excel table of M rows by N columns is already a multi-dimensional space. Ron Atkin was a British mathematician who explored this kind of thinking and wrote about them. I will talk about his work and my ideas on this blog. I think he was way ahead of his time! Strangely, he is not well known outside of his immediate community.

In my engineering and project management career of ~ 23 years, I have met a lot of people from different disciplines and crafts, construction managers are my favorite, they have their hands into the real thing, putting into the ground what engineers (working in offices) think they built and of course they did but all in virtual realm and on a paper. A construction manager, the good ones, will enjoy putting together a properly designed and integrated system, they see things in action, the time sequence of how a plant is built up from bare ground up to the top of the finished system. It’s quite amazing. There is a gap in culture, knowledge, and approach between the construction and engineering community. One of the effective ways of tightening this gap or make a bridge across this discipline chasm is to engage construction team early in design phase. We call this constructability reviews.   
I was able to complete my first paper in mathematical structure of project management on that date. I will publish a copy of the paper on this blog or if you have stumbled on this site and happen to be a curious and mathematically minded project manager, please email me if you would like to access a copy.