What Changing a Tire Taught Me About Project Management | CIO

General Project Management

I thought I was organized. And I thought I knew how to change a tire. And I thought I knew how to plan. If this had been a project, I would have wasted a lot of project time and money.

I thought I was a fairly organized person. Thought. And then I started to change a tire on our large 12-passenger van. The best part of it was the help I received from my project team – my 5-year-old son Ryan and my two 7-year-olds, Jack and Leah. The worst part? Everything else.

I hate rework above just about anything else and I’ve managed projects long enough and I’ve been an application developer long enough to know that rework usually results from poor or incomplete planning or poor communication. I try to avoid both. But in this instance, I didn’t.

What should have taken me 30+ minutes with some advanced oversight and planning, took me about 4 hours and more pain and sweat than I had planned on. I didn’t have the right jack (rework), I didn’t prop the jack that I did have properly in order to make sure that the van would be far enough off the ground to actually get the flat tire off and the spare on (rework), I didn’t have the second jack propped far enough off the ground to get the tires off and on (rework) and I didn’t have all the tools set out and available prior to starting the whole job (extra work due to starting before I was really ready).

If I had my project manager hat on, I would have thought it all out differently. I was stubborn…and I was not planning it wisely or planning at all. The end result? Far too much rework and extra effort…and when you are talking about jacking a big 12-passenger van with a raised roof up and down three times, that’s too much rework. And later I realized that my very nice retired neighbor who rebuilds cars in his custom garage on his lot probably has a big hydraulic jack. Then I really understood how poorly I planned this out.

The morale to this story is this… if we don’t preplan well enough, we can end up wasting our time, wasting our project team members’ time, wasting our customer’s time and wasting valuable time and effort on our project. And all of that equals wasted money.

Thankfully, my ‘project flat tire’ didn’t mean any extra money. But if that had been a project with four $150/hour resources working on it – even the extra, say, three hours would have resulted in $150/hour x 3 hours x 4 project team members = $1,800 of extra time/dollars and that’s just one task. If you end up being a poor planner throughout a project you can see where a couple thousand dollars can easily become $100,000 and a failed project – fast.


Plan. I knew going in to my project that I needed to plan. I let other things get in the way of that, for me this time it was the fun of getting my little ones involved and starting before planning. Sometimes this happens when we let senior management push us into starting a project before we’ve properly planned for it so they can show progress and results.

Sometimes it’s a project client pushing us to skip some planning and get started in the name of saving money. It doesn’t work that way nine times out 10 though, does it? Unless everything happens flawlessly, poor planning will usually end up costing us in the long run.

How about our readers? Can you relive and incident – personal or professional – where poor planning or a lack of planning cost you time and money…and frustration? Please share and discuss.




Source: What Changing a Tire Taught Me About Project Management | CIO

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One thought on “What Changing a Tire Taught Me About Project Management | CIO

  • How about getting the flat tire? Rushing, trying to cut the corner a little too sharply, hitting the curb and ruining the tire? Assuming I knew/remembered how to use the jack. Not having AAA because I wanted to save money each year. Then being late, losing the client.

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