The Agile Tribe

The Gallipoli Matrix

on October 12, 2009

Author: Christian Scheiber

After many years working in IT, either as a member of a project team or managing a team delivering a project, I made a discovery. My “a-ha” moment if you will; I call it, the Gallipoli Matrix. For those that don’t know what I’m talking about here’s a short lesson. To shorten World War 1, the British decided to isolate Germany and open a second front, they would force the Dardanelles. First with a naval force, and once that failed, a land and sea invasion. The rest, they say is history and the Anzac legend was born.

So, what does this have to do with project management I hear you ask? Well everything and it all comes down to planning! The maps of currents and topography that were used to plan the invasion were seriously out of date. The people planning the invasion were nowhere near the area of operation. In fact they were in London thousands of miles away! So when the troops landed, they knew their objective and how to achieve it, but the landscape that confronted them was nothing like they expected. They became lost, confused and leaderless very quickly; communication broke down and it was very difficult, if not impossible to achieve their objective. Eventually they ceased operations and withdrew. The only saving grace from this abject failure was the decision to withdraw. It was executed brilliantly without loss of life, because it was planned effectively.

In my humble opinion if the core project team;

  • Plans all phases and iterations effectively
  • Has the right resources
  • Understands the risks involved
  • Knows what can be realistically achieved
  • Has, effective, open and constructive communication
  • Reaches consensus by engaging regularly with all stakeholders, including the project team, management and customer
  • Understands the environment in which they operate, and then ..

They can avoid the Gallipoli Matrix!


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