The Pavarotti Effect

In a previous article, we mentioned how the Brexit could reflect some project management mechanics, such as the student syndrome. As of the day I am writing this article (October 29th, 2019) I had the opportunity to watch parliamentary debates between the British Prime Minister and the Deputy chamber with the following subjects:

  • Brexit agreement validation
  • Conduct of anticipated election
  • Brexit deferment date proposal  

To sum up, the kind of project where you already know with the framing that it doesn’t look good…

Here I am, watching TV, hoping to see the British phlegm in action… Meaning, taking every subject one by one and vote in a calm atmosphere while giving a little bit of dissatisfaction full of irony and British humour.

What a surprise to observe the opposite.

Everyone insulting each other, interrupting others, even leaving the parliament! The disagreements are numerous:

  • We do not agree on the exit perimeter
  • Resources are not ready to execute the plan
  • There is no consensus about the date
  • We don’t know if the politician strategies are made in the best interest of the country or for political organization strategies. 

Those four elements look like Project management pitfall. However, the way it expresses itself is different. In project management we call it the Pavarotti effect:the one who shouts louder gets what he wants – perimeter agreement, his resources, date and budgets associated with it. The difference with the parliament is that the company is not a regulatory body.

As a result, the Pavarotti effect becomes a repetitive effect.

On the first iteration, the one who spent his energy to shout the loudest probably got what he wanted. But as the other project manager are stuck, their projects fall behind schedule. As a result they will have more arguments to change the perimeter, claim for more resources and update project end date (it sounds better than postponing the project!)

To sum up, you have a system that enters into a vicious circle where a lot of energy is spent not to do things but to justify changes.