Chapter 14. Middle-game strategy

The title of this chapter, “Middle-game strategy,” refers to the game of chess. Chess games are divided into three parts: opening, middle game, and end-game. The middle-game is when the player’s general strategy becomes evident and is applied through moves he makes. Most moves in a game are made during middle game. End-game is the conclusion of play, where resources are slim and every single move counts. This chapter focuses on project mid-game, and the next chapter covers project end-game.

“Chance favors the prepared.”

—Louis Pasteur

Mid-game on projects is the middle of the overall schedule. You’ll know you’re in mid-game when some things are working, but some things aren’t, some issues have been discovered and resolved, but you know others haven’t even been found yet. Mid-game is challenging because many things are happening at the same time, and it’s difficult to maintain clarity on what’s going well and what’s not. The term fog of war —used by Clausewitz[79] in reference to how chaotic warfare can seem while you are in it—applies well to mid-game. There is an inevitable fog of development activity that surrounds the team, and it’s easy for the inexperienced to get lost. It’s the responsibility of team leaders to bring the team through the uncertainty of mid-game and out into end-game, where things become clear again.

In the simplest possible view, mid-game and end-game are all about high-level maintenance:[80 ...

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