The Project Manager’s Nightmare is a game intended to demonstrate the benefits of limiting Work in Progress (WiP). It also shows the madness of the situation which many Project Managers find themselves in.
Created by: Todd Charron (drawing influences from countless other variations)
Timing: About 15 minutes
Materials: Pad and pen.
Instructions: Everyone stands in a circle. One person volunteers to be “the PM” and stands in the middle of the circle. The “PM” has the pad and pen.
1. “The PM” asks a person in the circle their name.
2. The person in the circle gives their name to “the PM” and spells it out while “the PM” writes it down.
3. “The PM” then moves clockwise to the next person in the circle and repeats steps 1 and 2. This continues until they have written down all the names. The facilitator tracks the time it takes to complete the first name and the time it takes to write down all the names.
1. “The PM” asks a person for the first letter of their name.
2. The person in the circle gives the first letter to “the PM” and “the PM” writes it down.
3. “The PM” then moves clockwise to the next person in the circle and repeats steps 1 and 2. Once “the PM” has all the first letters, they start collecting the second letter of each persons name, then the third and so on until all the names have been written down again. The facilitator tracks the time it takes to complete the first name and the time it takes to write down all the names. Check for any errors.
It gets really fun in the second round when not everyone’s name has the same amount of letters in it. They will often revisit names that are already complete in their rush to switch tasks.
Debrief: Which took longer? Why?
How did it feel being “the PM”? Was it more or less stressful in round 2?
Did you make more or less mistakes the second time around? Why?
What happened when people had longer or shorter names in round 2?
How does this relate to your current work? If you’re not a PM, how does it relate to when you are working on multiple projects/tasks simultaneously?
Learnings: Focus allows us to not only get one thing out the door sooner, but it also allows us to complete all of our work sooner.
Multitasking increases stress, while decreasing quality and performance.