From the Ask Tom mailbag –
Thank you for your presentation to our group. I enjoyed it very much. It strikes me that while I like the concept of time span, generally, the concept of time is relative and it’s really about being able to see down the road of potential outcomes regardless of the time-frame.
Your thinking is on the right track and you have made the connection between time span (time-frame) and potential outcomes. Let’s take it a bit further.
In a short time span project, there may be several outcomes, but the characteristics of those outcomes are concrete and tangible. In a longer time span project, the possible outcomes multiply in number with less defined characteristics.
If an audio-visual contractor bids on a contract for a audio-visual setup, 65 inch hole in the wall, with a project deadline in three months time, what goes in the hole?
- The technology is certain – plasma, LCD, LED-LCD, OLED, QDLED
- The display is certain – CRT, flat screen, front projection, rear projection
- The display surface is certain – reflective surface, flat surface, curved surface
- The manufacturer is certain – Sony, Mitsubishi, JVC, Samsung, LG, Panasonic
There are a number of possible outcomes.
If an audio-visual contractor bids on a contract for an audio-visual setup, 65 inch hole in the wall, with a project deadline in five years time (a commercial project still in the design phase, hasn’t broken ground), what goes in the hole?
- What will be the display technology in five years time?
- What will be the surface technology in five years time, will there even be a surface, holographic?
- Who will be the manufacturers in five years time?
There are a number of possible outcomes, but the characteristics are more uncertain. There is ambiguity and uncertainty. So, here is the question –
Given the ambiguity and uncertainty in this project, should the audio-visual contractor accept the contract with a deadline in five years time?
Some contractors would pass, saying there is too much uncertainty, no way to say what the project will look like. Some contractors, comfortable with ambiguity and with the internal capability to adapt to emerging technologies would gladly accept the project. What is the difference in the thinking? What is the difference in the organizations?