Chapter 3. Defining the Project

Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.

Neils Bohr

Define the problem before you pursue a solution.

John Williams, CEO, Spence Corp.

If you don't know where you are going, how will you know when and if you ever get there? So many times I have seen projects get off to a terrible start simply because there never was a clear understanding of exactly what was to be done. A definition of completeness or doneness was never documented and agreed to. This chapter gets you started on the right foot with a series of activities that lead to a clearly defined and understood definition of what the project is all about. I begin with a communications tool called Conditions of Satisfaction (COS).


The traditional project management approach assumes you have a clear understanding of what is to be done. In Chapters 1319 where we deal with Adaptive and Extreme project management, I relax that requirement and deal with situations where the goal is not clearly, or cannot be clearly, defined.

The deliverable from the Conditions of Satisfaction will be a one-page document (with attachments) called the Project Overview Statement (POS). The Project Overview Statement clearly states what is to be done. It is signed by the parties who completed the Conditions of Satisfaction exercise. Once the POS is approved, the scoping phase is complete.


The COS works well for smaller projects. It does not scale to large projects. For larger projects a more formal process ...

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