Timothy Johnson Photo in Header

« The Nights of Cram-A-Lot | Main | Tex Support »

The Midas Noogie


It was a typical project management training exercise:  get the participants to understand the importance of defining requirements in order that they will eventually be able to turn it into tasks and activities.  Hence, I divided my class into four teams.  Two of the teams had to plan a wedding for Bridezilla (yeah, yeah, I know pretty typical), and the other two teams had to design the ultimate "man room" (now we're talkin').

Then I threw the curve ball.  For one of the wedding teams, the budget was limitless; for the other only had $10K for the whole shooting match.  For one of the "man room" teams, the sky was also the limit; the other team had to design a man room which was "wife approved."  I gave them the standard amount of time to complete the assignment, and when we started to debrief, there were two teams who were begging for more time.  Can you guess which ones?


If you guessed that the teams with no boundaries had a harder time with the exercise, you would be correct.  In project management, we like to blame our short-comings on the triple constraint (good-fast-cheap... choose two).  In reality, the constraints more often lie within us.  King Midas found that out the hard way when everything he touched turned to gold.  Those project teams that have unlimited constraints generally have the hardest time getting any traction; they zip right past the "Midas touch" and wind up with a Midas "noogie" (for those of you who do not know what a "noogie" is, borrow somebody's older brother to demonstrate the process).

Roger von Oech had an interesting post a few weeks ago about the Planet-formerly-known-as-Pluto.  He then posed an interesting question of his readers:  Since we do not appear to be missing Pluto all that much, what other things can we eliminate?  What are the essentials vs. the nice-to-have's?  Where can you eliminate the fluff that is preventing you from Carpe Factum?


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Midas Noogie:

» Creativity Constrained from Pimp Your Work
When you think of creativity in your work, do you think creativity means being able to come up with anything to solve a problem? One of the more interesting concepts about creativity is that creativity doesnt work real well when you can, in fact... [Read More]


Dean Fuhrman

Situations where one is left with "no choice" are frequently easier to deal with than wide open space were you are forced to impose limitations. I had a situation where we were trying to get in front our workload by finishing up early so we could adequately prepare for the next quarter's projects. We made it, finished our work, got the time we had hoped for, but we had a difficult time with that wide open space. It looked so vast but in reality it was not. Once the "press of cold metal" to our temples was taken away, and the gun to our heads mode of operation would be the norm instead of the unusual, we found it more difficult to function. And it was largely because we now had to reach out, survey the scene, separate out the important form the less important, and impose our own set of limitations. Very uncomfortable scenario. You guess what we have reverted to.

Enjoyed your post.

Timothy Johnson

Hi Dean - thanks for weighing in. Yes, having that extra slack can be the kiss of death for a team. I try to be cautious about communicating slack to the team, just to avoid the situation you mentioned.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Like What You're Reading? Buy A Book

subscribe to feed

  • Click the button for the free RSS feed. (What is RSS?)

    Or get the feed in your email. Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

Follow Me!

Search Carpe Factum

  • Google

    carpe factum
Powered by TypePad