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The Laws of Projects

Newton’s Law of Projects:
“For every project, there is an equal and opposite project.”
Interfaces v.11#2, April 1981, p.10

Gutfreund’s corollary to Newton’s law of projects:
“A project not in motion tends to remain not in motion.”

Nordin’s paradox on Gutfreund’s corollary to Newton’s law of projects:
“The more perfect a vacuum in which a project operates, the more friction it will encounter.”

Hays’ laws of projects:
“A project manager moves in one direction until nudged by a forceful client.”

“The magnitude of the force applied normal to a project’s direction is in inverse proportion to the size of the remaining budget.”

Hayes’ law of homily entropy:
“The number of people able to resist comments on the comments of others become vanishingly small with time.”

Ireson’s Parallax on Nordin’s Paradox on Gutfreund’s corollary to Newton’s law of projects:
“In space, no one can hear you scream.”

Project thoughts

When a project finishes, does it “wind up” or “wind down”?

To be sure, when a project is said to be “unwinding” that’s generally not a good thing, but on the other hand, when one gets “wound up” about a project that’s not good either.  Sometimes you just “wind up” somewhere, not a good thing, especially on projects, and usually means you are not done at all.  Being “wound too tight” is often linguistically associated with “having a spring loose” or “popping a gasket.”   Having a spring loose would seemingly prevent you from bouncing back when the pressure held in check by gaskets was suddenly released.

Some things are powered by “wind up” devices (that often use springs that presumably are not loose), but you do that at the beginning, not at the end.  And a baseball pitcher does a “wind up” at the beginning of his activity, not the end.

And while you can “wind up” or “wind down” at the end of a project, a wound up person is calmed down, not up.  This is despite the fact that projects “finish up” or “close out” but never “finish down” or “wind out.”  

Sometimes things in a project “close in” on the one managing it, but that is seldom associated with “winding up” or down.  People in such situations are often said to have their wind up.

Time to “wrap up.”  Happy holidays.

John Nordin, PMP
RightFax Project Manager

Recent advances in Artificial intelligence have permitted great progress in analysis of heterogeneous non-quantitative information.  This has recently been embodied in a new application space: the universal project analysis framework that enables the end-to-end integration of disparate project status information.  I downloaded one of these products, fed it the MRD, the PRD, all the functional specs, our sharepoint sites, and all the email I’ve received over the past six months and had it produce this graphical analysis of the RightFax 9 project. 



What Product Management asked for

What the Project Manager put in the PRD





What Development built

How QA tested it



What the Marketing Collateral says

How it was documented



What the international offices knew

What Configuration Management supported





What the beta sites tested

What the customer really needed

Last modified 11/29/09; original content © 2009 John P. Nordin