Law of Project Sacrifice

The only way to achieve lasting and predictable results is either by doing projects, such as getting a new key client, or by building systems, such as implementing a new referral system.

Interestingly enough, the process of doing projects or building systems adheres to certain laws. These laws are unbreakable (to the chagrin of many project managers). A perfect example is the law of project sacrifice, also known as “good, cheap, fast.” Pick two. 

The law of project sacrifice dictates that whenever you do a project or build a system, you can achieve only two goals simultaneously, while consciously sacrificing one other goal to make this happen.

This practice means that a project can be:

  • Good and cheap. But never fast. Think of building your own garden shed. 
  • Good and fast. But never cheap. Take, for example, outsourcing your taxes to a tax professional. 
  • Cheap and fast. But never good. When was the last time you used duct tape to temporarily fix something? 

Always decide beforehand which of these three goals is the least painful for you to sacrifice. Then bite the bullet and focus on achieving the other two objectives.

The biggest mistake project managers make is to avoid making this decision upfront. If you fail to sacrifice a goal, your project will end up lousy, expensive and way over time. 

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