Everyone fails

Every headline proves it

The human condition gives us a choice. A means to weigh up options. A means to keep to our task or allow the constant distractions move us to the next. This is not unique. Any animal reacts to its external situation, if it is to survive to enjoy the next meal – rather than be one.

Our privilege is how we have advanced this instinct. Combined it with a gift to imagine more. Not just react but to act. Noam Chomsky argues this is what elevated us into a different type of animal. One that could use imagery to foresee. Imagery that we could relate. In our groups to begin to gesticulate. Have others abstractly understand our intended meaning. Influence others by the symbols we used to reflect something else. Others in a group now able to ingest those symbols. Convert them into similar meaning and infer what the other has implied.

The imagery of one – becomes the understanding of two. Common interest in group safety, turning to cooperation, and communication of ideas not just one’s needs or dominance. In our pre-history this meant shared experience became our edge. Lessons learned by one successful hunting project could be taken to the next. Complexity of exchange encouraging noises to be added to gesticulation. The symbolism of mind, translated to the symbolic movement of our hands, and noise wrapped around tongues to share ever more complexity in new meaning. The rest, is our history.

When I read articles about one failure of one person in one shared project, I despair. Not of that personal failure. I despite of our acceptance that only one person is to blame. It seems to me rather obvious that it is our failure to better enact our gifts to be present in sharing our projects, cooperate by how we communicate, coordinate, and collaborate, that is to blame.

Apply that thought to the next witch hunt article you read

Please comment, like, subscribe..,

About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here:

Crazy horse or smart ass?

there are workhorses, and there are show ponies. Which one are you?”

Source: unknown

I love this question. It catches everyone somewhat off guard. I still ask it of myself quite regularly. I hope you are pondering it of yourself right now.

Why this horse-play?

This article continues my exploration into the difference between having and being. From a commercial projects perspective I think we can all imagine people, departments, companies, or even corners of whole industries that we would happily place into one category or the other. My point in raising this analogy, as a link to the having and being modality, is simply to highlight something we are all prone to do. Liberally generalise and categories the other, but fail to reflect upon when we are pursuing needs best suited only to ourselves.

The cart before the horse

Let me foreshadow where this article is going. In projects of all type, we all share the guilt of passive generalisations of others, whilst falsely perceiving ourselves to be representing a more adaptable mode. We are self-declaring our being mode, and accusing the other of seeking simply to have needs and act upon them in categorically assignable ways. We fool ourselves into thinking we are the ones in the moment and taking positions that protect intended future outcomes.

This is where I think we all become the enemy of our projects. Our projects are intended change. They necessarily require us to be minded in a transformative mode. Our categorisations of others make their needs seem distinct from our own. It can be the justification for much, including slight-of-hand. We deem ourselves to be more representing the true nature of our project, or at least the spirit of our relationships. That the other is the one in the wrong.

Horses for courses

I observe some interesting reactions when the question of being a workhorse or show-pony is posed.

  • There is the immediate and confident response…closely followed by the doubt as to what has just been admitted;
  • or the confident response that is then immediately justified as “that’s just the way I am”.
  • There is the hesitant response, where the answer is being mulled over inwardly, before committing to a tactical representation.
  • Or there is no answer at all – as the mulling over becomes revealing of the trap that has been set.

Psychology may help me understand the immediate reactions I observe. It may also offer a perspective toward the more considered response. Maybe it will explain my own mischief in asking the question at all.

To commit to being a workhorse sounds the more noble sentiment perhaps. It reflects a diligence to your craft, and studiousness, and a serious regard to your endeavour. But if you jumped to this answer, it dawns on you that maybe you are someone else’s stooge, the effort behind someone else’s success, someone more showy than you.

So perhaps the better answer is to be the show-horse. The gallant and confident, the leader with courage and valour, the annoying so and so that seems to get it all right, so often, and so easily. The silky-smooth unflappable fop. But then that is to admit to being carefree, perhaps a little lazy and laissez-faire, or the mouthpiece that just takes all the glory. The one attracting the attention of the cynic. For all your medals you are just the metaphorical OBE (other b*****’s efforts).

Horses for courses

The point is of course that there is no correct response. We are all too self assured to be labelled one way of the other. However, I find myself now seeing into this a little more. Both answers are to reflect something we hold in low regard. Behind the veneer of what seems a good place to be.

do we really have to choose between one and the other?”

Source: Nancy Ancowitz, author and career coach at New York University

Psychology agrees. The answer is to be both, and the trick is knowing how to assess the ground conditions and therefore what tack to wear. As was stated in Psychology Today.

It is therefore helpful to have awareness and skill sets of both. Having your own work to show, and knowing how to show your work.

Look to the mirror, not the gift-horse

My observation is more connected with how we see others. We can assess people quickly, and put them in one camp or the other. Whilst we can assess ourselves more generously and with more permission to ebb and flow between the two. No one wants to admit to just being the one doing the work blindly, or the one only interested in presenting it. At least no one you would hold in high regard for long, or feel assured that you could depend.

Making quick judgements is a useful short-cut. We are pre-programmed to do just that. But the more rounded the person, the harder it may be to tell. You may be judging quickly, but reflecting upon the duality and choice you wish you could be. Judging them for acting according to the categorisation you’ve outlined. Not realising it is what you would do if you were them, that you actually see.

By example, introversion and extroversion can be confused by this analogy. My learning of this Jungian derived difference is that the concept is misappropriated and culturally confused. It is not the shy or outgoing metric many think it to be. In Myers-Briggs modelling it is explained as the place where you feel most at ease. Replenishing mental energy rather than expending it. It has little to do with social confidence which is situational and steeped in much wider interacting factors. It is quite possible to be extroverted but feel out of place. It is equally possible to be introverted but able to put on a show.

Being vs having

Which gives my own interpretation of what this means to be either self-identifying yourself as the workhorse or the show-pony. It is a place to start assessing how to be a better you. Rather than feeling you have a preferred role to play. Or projecting hidden doubts upon others who are doing that which you feel least at ease.

We know if we are more comfortable quietly turning a wheel or taking part in the harrass and sharing the strain in a team. Or if the odd gallop, the show, and the parade in the paddock puts the spring in your step. It is easy to allow such comfortable placement to begin to define which role we think ourselves best.

Allowing these two extremes to define us invites distance and separation. Perhaps show ponies have a better empathy with their audience. Perhaps the workhorse a better understanding of the effort needed to honour glib promises a show-pony has made. Being one or other is inviting a greater distance between these extremes. It is to invite alienation from the whole. At a project level this is to invite inner divides, and my argument is that this invites projects | within projects to detach from wider goals. We adopt transitional states but to counter the outcome that our other project actors are anticipated to seize.

At each unique personal level, this is also problematic for us too. The workhorse may consider themselves more diligent and to have more industry; be more straight-forward in saying what is what. But that is also the excuse to hang-back and check everything again, tentatively seek more opinion, deny creativity and new ideas (by thinking others simply do not poses the understanding of what is involved). Perhaps our show-pony see this as intransigent. The stubborn mule.

Then what is seen from the other paddock? The showy confidence can lead to arrogance, and if it breeds easy success can be the road to short-cuts, a focus only on what is easier to win applause. The empathy and creativity of sales turned to spin and gamesmanship. Perhaps our workhorse sees this as the behaviour of the work-shy. The flighty horse, there for trumpets, but caring little for what goes on after the Lord Mayor’s show.

These are extremes and wild generalisation. I hope the point is made well enough. Whichever attitude you see, and which ever you may want to be, the trick is to know when to be which. Be capable of both. Be both, but have the singular attitude of neither. Be able to transform.

This is then to be adaptable. It is also to take the lead. It is a way to support others in their bid to do the same. To adopt the attitude necessary to do the graft. To adopt the attitude necessary to show their craft. Building trust in yourself. And respect for the other. Psychological safety and permitted vulnerability by both. All focused upon the wider transformation the whole project is trying to be.


Of course, these are generalisations. They assume our relationships are with well rounded counter-parts and colleagues. Judgements can be proved right. There are plenty of foals around masquerading as mature thoroughbreds. Just know better if it is you being the ass.

Am I a workhorse or show-pony?

I am trying hard to be both, and accepting some of the foibles that are saddled to each. I am the last horse to bolt – maybe still asleep on the hay. Happy to show-pony in short bursts if it is safe; but most comfortable watching before doing, working my craft, head in my nosebag. I like to dream of greener pastures, being the steed that never refuses the higher fences, but that’s easy whilst asleep on the hay. I do not have enough industry to be forever ploughing old ground. I have no wish to stay still and become the nag. So reign me in if I am being stubborn as a mule, or showing myself to be the jackass.

Workhorse or show-pony?

Yes to both. It takes hard work to put on a show.

be the workhorse; be the show-pony; and know when to be which. No one likes a smart ass. Or to be the butt of the joke”

adapted from blog.inkhouse.com here
Courtesy of the artist, tigatalu

Back to school…

They kept me on tenterhooks but they said yes.

University of Nottingham, Psychology (Conversion) MSc starting in two weeks time. It’s a hobby and a passion, and now a part time remote working MSc.

Some of the best research and highest ranking student experience results in the country. And not an easy place to get into. I am delighted.

More learning. More cross over disciplinary intentions. More application if I can find a way.

I will keep blogging on where psychology and commercial project thinking can find more to connect.

Watch this space…

Being more

Applying knowledge not owning it

The lockdown library

I spend most of every day in my lockdown library. A store of owned knowledge.  Growing, courtesy of Oxfam’s fabulous array of second-hand books.  It is where I write, research, and ponder.  It is where I work, and (because of lockdown necessity) where I live.

However, I am trying to be a better representation of my craft.  Being an active participant in the development of knowledge, not simply having ownership in this room.

Last week was a moment of intentional change to my being. I launched “projects | within projects” as a repository of my structured thought.  A place people can visit, read summaries of what I am learning, and how I am trying to apply it to projects.  It connects you to my ongoing enquiry, and to my life.

I am being more visible.

I had 147 visitors to my website in this first week, and 230 views.  The dialogue it generated via LinkedIn is very encouraging. I am very grateful. I am already rewarded for attempting a more active mode.

This was a big step for me.  Stepping out of my comfortable surroundings, albeit digitally.  This becomes my more action orientated learning.  Applied learning.  My attempt at being a contributor to learning, not just a passive recipient.

My blog yesterday was about this difference.  Being not having.  To be present and active in a process. Introducing you to Erich Fromm. There is more to say on this in the coming days and weeks.

Thank you for the support in my first week as a blogger.

Fromm having to being

Being more present in our projects

In this article I argue for a means to identify if we are connected to other project actors by being present or simply having a role to play. Being is an active position. Having a passive or self orientated mode.

The concepts of “being vs having” are taken from Erich Fromm (1979) “To have or to be? : a new blue print for mankind” Reprint 1984 Abacus, Sphere Books, London. I also recommend the many YouTube videos hosted by cognitive scientist, John Vervaeke, to learn more about being present. It is insight I have taken into my daily life.

Erich Fromm admits immediately to the ideological endings to this book.  It is in three parts. The first two reflecting his wider psychoanalytic account of selfishness vs altruism, as two basic character orientations.  The third part moving more directly towards his politics, ideology, and societal solutions.  It is the first two parts, specifically the first ninety-four pages of this book, from which I present factors to inform commercial project thinking.

The key insights I present here are from Chapter II, “having and being in daily life” pp37 to pp54.  Fromm offers eight examples of having vs being. They each reflect how we are united or divided by perspectives on truth.

One: Having learning vs being a learner

(see next)

Two: Having mechanical vs being logical, in what is remembered

Fromm separates learning and remembering, but both offer context of attitude towards recall.  His examples are: the student attending lectures to learn the syllabus to pass exams: compared to, the learner who reads around the subject beforehand, engages with the lecture for more perspective, and takes all of this away to build upon more knowledge as the subject evolves.  Fromm also references Freudian free association to demonstrate what the being mode of remembering is.  This is application, not simply having recall.

Three: Conversation vs dialogue

To converse is to exchange perspectives.  It is presenting what was prepared or already known.  The second, is to be part of a process of shared enquiry towards a truth (pp42)

Four: Judgement of bias vs Information as fact

pp43-44 he contrasts forming a judgement vs acquiring knowledge.  The former is the means to receive information with the context and content choices of the messenger.  The second offers lines of thought that we accept.

Five: Having authority vs being an authority 

pp45-47 he distinguishes modes of authority.  One is rational and reflecting a competence, service, and one intended to help others to grow.  The other irrational, requiring subjugation; symbols of authority, propaganda, and cliché; intent on destroying means of critical judgement and increase dependency… “lose their capacity to trust their eyes and judgement”.

Six: Having knowledge or being open to better

Having knowledge is to own truth.  To know is to strive critically and actively in order to approach truth ever more closely, pp47

Seven: Faith in a thing vs faith in a process

We can have faith in an authority figure, an institution, an idea.  We can have faith in our ability to assess a situation by its range of possible outcomes.  The first is a submission, the second is an attitude derived from experience (pp49-51)

Eight: To have love vs to be loving

To have love is possessive, to be loving is an action.  Fromm focuses here on the early action based demonstrative love prior to the commitment by the other which then becomes more an attitude of shared ownership (pp51-54)

Applying this to projects

How much distance divides your project actors?

Across each of these eight categories of having vs being, there is a divide being identified.  This distance is a useful metaphor to consider project relationships.  As relationships move further into a having mode, so they further separate.  For example, in examining faith (pp47) Fromm distinguishes faith in an external object vs faith of being inside a process.  It is this distance that serves my application of these same concepts back into projects.

Division or separation? A project within a project

In this regard there is a point where this division becomes an interface where interests fully diverge.  Being part of a process changes completely into just playing a part.  I am proposing that this division, this separation into identifiable parts, becomes a separately definable project.  The one project now becomes two.

The having relationship is a more divided relationship.  Conversely, the more project actors are in being relationships, as outlined in the eight categories above, the closer they are.  By extremes therefore, they can become one entity, or at least a close approximation to it.  Or, they can be fully separated, and have have competing agendas or be in open in conflict.

The separation now leaves each project with its own being mode. Two being modes, now joined but via a having mode.  Both may intend to cooperate with the other, but not at the expense of their own project.  Returning to the example of faith, each is now an external object vs the shared faith of being inside a process.  If they are required to compete, a point arises as necessitating a win:lose result (in economics, a zero-sum game).

One final extreme can also now be considered.  Projects that are intent on causing harm to another.  Projects of espionage, counter-measure, or deceit.

Next steps

With this distance identified, and this having vs being modality contextualised, I will next bring several project concepts across this same modal perspective.  Three positions will be explored as follows:

  1. High Reliability Organisations in a project setting.  How distance is closed, and project actors become part of a process
  2. I will address a confused position I believe to exist when RACI type models are applied in complex multi-modal situations
  3. I will consider the evolving nature of a project and how “having modes” can become “being modes”, or vice versa.

Book reference.  Erich Fromm (1979) “To have or to be? : a new blue print for mankind” Reprint 1984 Abacus, Sphere Books, London

The cognitive scientist John Vervaeke has devoted many hours on YouTube sharing his wisdom.  Differentiating having and being, and flagging key books to read.  Including this one…

If you have made it this far, thank you.  Please comment, share, and subscribe.  This is a live and evolving enquiry.  This website and the Beardall.Blog are intended to prompt the being mode into a project. Aiming to help projects be more.  They are all projects | within projects.

About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here:

1,000 year project?

WARNING! This is a poem…

Immortality, immorality, our collective totality

Living to 1000 years. We are nearly there I’m told. The first already walks among us.  But it will all end in tears.  The target is 1 year prolonged per year. And we are already at 3 months. This is seemingly now science fact, but who deemed this a good idea?

Individual mortality is the key to our collective future. Nature’s way of keeping our firmware up to date, our DNA shelf life intact.  Still able to download the latest life apps, model updates, our iClone contract

By three our boundaries are discovered, challenged and reset. From five our persona is shining through or cruelly being offset. We are taught what is expected in the playground and class.  By our teens we push, rebel, rejoice, disregard, make anew, reflect and into adulthood pass.

By our twenties our views are solidified, we know what we hold dear. Our values, our futures, our priorities smear. Our persona and challenge now soiled and caked. Optimism or realism well mixed but partially baked. New doors open, but others firmly shut. Maybe the beginnings of getting stuck in a rut.

And so it goes, our opinions funnel, our outlooks narrow, life knocks and jostles. Gives but mostly takes. Our patience grows thin, realities set in.  Expectations and standards becoming ever clearer and absolute. Our defence of what’s right, steadfast, resolute

Until one day, we’re not so fresh faced. Momentum and change look more like challenge, and an unrelenting pace.  Excitement replaced with fear, distrust, scorn. A worry that this is someone else’s dawn.  Ahead a stark reality, that boundaries being tested now are the ones we built anew.  Our stores of hope and dreams now others plunder, it’s now our ideals that are askew.

This is everybody’s story, our shared indignity. But to hold tight an ideal, is to preserve our anchor in history.  It is forever the next generation that is unbound from yesterday.  As they prepare for life’s journey, we should relieve them of our luggage. Simply share your moral compass to help them find their own way.

And let the teacher be taught. Gift your experience but accept the gift of experience anew. Be open, be accepting, embrace change as privilege. Like bearing witness the dawning of a new day.  Be reverent not irrelevant. Transpose, translate, transform. The day you stop learning is the day you punch your ticket home.

Live in the moment, think in the future, remember the past. And if you want a different outlook, put on a different mask. If you climb a single mountain, your journey ends with a single view. Keep climbing new mountains, find new challenge, face your fears, and seek not to live forever in the cocoon of your bygone years.

But dear science, let’s not outstay our time. Let nature be, allow others time upon the throne. When our candles are many, roots deep, we become overgrown. Our aim is to leave a legacy, not extend our loan.  Advance us not to our third production stage, our diminishing return. Retire us gracefully, allow us a little oil to burn. When our work complete, a few years in the sun, when our software is obsolete.

To live beyond our means, is to extend our credit endlessly. Our overdraft looks hard to pay when interest is calculated continuously. Our negative return rate, our -2.71828, the cost of our outstayed welcome now increasing exponentially.

In our disposable world, what parts will be left at the end for our first 1000-year gene? The reboots, the upgrades, the contracts renewed. Fixed then dropped, broken, or cracked, our proteins hacked, batteries replaced, search history rephrased, old data erased.

Imagine William the Conqueror, 1000 years on. Staring, calculating, a returning gaze like Tolkien’s Sauron.  Having lived through so much, forgotten more than we know. What message would he offer, what imparting knowledge bestow?  A living history, a walking lament of past deeds, twenty lifetimes of sorrow. The death of so many seeds. An immortalised shell.  Eye now transfixed on the time we squander or sell.  Born in a time of the first paper as cash, Knut’s fight with the tide, crusades, religious genocide.  Allegiances changed in the blink of Harold’s eye. Towers built, countless blood spilt. Then rule of law signed, sciences uncovered, abstract thought, mathematics, continents and planets discovered.  Diseases tamed, civilisations maimed, powerhouses built, fought, elevated and shamed.

The 1000-year man. Who could live through so much, so many histories repeated. Technology advancing, human endeavour undefeated.  Lesson unlearned, a planet spurned. A 1000 years to plot and scheme. Or just chill on the sofa, lol at a meme, mindless viewing on Netflix, face stuffed with ice cream.  Only one Amazon is growing as our forests pack our greed.  Space adventure paid by courier, greatness measured in likes, not deed.

Lowering IQ to have common denominator.  Our own Will I am the conqueror, technology our subjugator.  Our internet of things, the knowledge of the world.  A flower for humanity, knowledge on every petal unfurled.  Our library of Alexandria, present in every palm and family homestead.  Packed to the rafters, an infinity of learning, yet nine in ten hits taken from the top shelf instead.

Technology advancing rapidly, but Moore’s law seemingly on the wane.  Lives set on comfort, popularity our polarity, our ambition merely fame.  With such time to waste, and yet in constant haste, science declared natures timeline is too soon.  We will defy you with our biological boon. Swept aside, cleaned up, parts anew, our genetic nod to Trigger’s broom

So is longevity humanities gift, or just our final curse? An immortal soul aboard an ungodly hearse.  And in his old age, 1000-year-old man will be stuck in his unfathomable cage. Perhaps travelling to some distant place, body re-engineered for outer space.  There is time yet. We have a whole universe to explore, claim and deface.

A 1000 years, it’s not for me.  Someone else can transcend the approaching singularity.  No upgrades to my firmware, or artificial reboots to my health, to accompany a constant recalibration of self.  The endless wonder of what life’s really for. I’ll be content with my 3 score years and ten, well maybe then just a couple more…

Warren 18th December 2019

About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here:

The plastic brain

Life learning

This is a short video by Dr. Lara Boyd. It offers hope to learners of all ages. The science that confirms how our brain continually develops, and throughout our lives.

In summary, our brain is changing all the time. Three key ways and time frames:

  • Chemically (short-term)
  • Structurally (long-term)
  • Inter connectively by experience.

Old brains can do this just like young. Crucially however, learning is impacted by our behaviour. Plus we each learn differently. You just need to find your best way. It then just requires practice, focus, and time.


About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here:

Earth as both project actor and frame

Project Actors

All projects include at least one actor, being the project initiator.  This as a human intervention, or a failure to do so.

A second actor is also always present. Passive or at least not consulted. This second actor is our environment. It is both a project actor, and the framework in which all of our projects reside. At least until we find the means to be independent of physical constraints, or the environment responds in ways in which we cannot manage or survive.

This is an extract from my page offering a definition of a project, as “time bound intended change“. This definition is presented as a way to compare projects from a wider sphere of thinking. This includes a necessary demand on any project initiator to have all project actors included within their core framework of control. Each actor’s wellbeing (meaning to have expectation to be better, not worse off at project end) each equally held in importance to any other. An extension of this concept is the well-being of the environment.

Given the urgency of the hour, this seems a timely moment to be trying to find project models that have our environment necessarily central to all decisions and control frameworks we demand.

If the whole human project is to be defined by these same parameters, it is the planet that becomes our framework housing our project – at least for now…

About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here:

Self understanding

The illusion of coordination

I want to introduce you to Michael Gazzaniga. The man who showed us how the left and right sides of the brain can become separated, and have conflicting demands of one person. My own interest here is more a demonstration of how brain function can reflect our projects.

Contemporary brain sciences are closing in on a mystery. Edging toward the possibility of the illusion of singular control, and singular truth. Even the most nihilistic among us will struggle to accept our limited ability to choose. So says Michael Gazzaniga in his 2012 book, “who’s in charge : free will and the science of the brain”, (cf Chapter 4 ff). In the proceeding chapter he introduces the interpreter part of our left brain. A function that retrospectively takes credit for automatous actions. Gives them justification. Backfilling explanation that we offer to external enquiry when no such conscious intervention really occurred. We even have a part of the brain that is active in recalibrating time lines in recall to help us in this justification. At a very fundamental level, we lie to ourselves to give meaning to actions, of which we had little control.

In his 2019 book “the consciousness instinct” Gazzaniga presents a compelling case for just how uncentralised this brain interaction is. Most interestingly is the suggestion that as our life experience grows, we add more modules to neurological stacks (each with its own operating procedure or rules) and so the complexity grows. No module is interacting with another, other than in the output of the last, and offering an output to the next. These countless numbers of stacks then competing against each other. Each demanding attention with signals to the conscious part of us. The most successful contributing stacks become more relied upon, as more positive experience, and increase in regularity of use, thereby rewarded and invested in further. Redundancies are just a by-part of the whole. “What wires together, fires together” he cites from mantras born from Donald Hebb (ibid pp62). Offered by Gazzaniga as one more death nail amongst many to psychological behaviourism which others, like Noam Chomsky’s preprogrammed brain theory of symbolism and language, have further hammered home.

The latter part of this 2019 book is perhaps the most mind bending (pun intended). He reflects on pp193, of Pattee’s quantum and classical layers and size factor of enzymes that enable 1D and 3D connections – suggesting the mind-body problem sits at this same interface of the physics of relativity vs quantum theory. On pp196 he has notion of complimentarity still being resisted but that from herein is life. As order and chaos. Physical and arbitrary. Probabilistic symbolic measurement and material physical laws. Increasingly ordered and increasingly complexed over time. That this tension also has external account, pp209 Rebecca Sax, MIT – there is a part of the right brain that is specialised at anticipating the intentions of another person.

In my opinion, what this is explaining is our understanding of change. The intentional actions of change. Which we as human beings have become more able and sophisticated at managing. Although to what extent we are truly free to choose is debated at length in both books.

The data complexity management at a fundamental life perspective pp219, also suggests challenge between perspectives. To show how long life has been doing this he offers time perspectives in terms of evolutionary timelines of millions of years ago (mya). As bottom-up thinking ~550 mya, competing with top-down ~350 mya. This is presented as data control advantages which offer complexification needing new modules to find new ways. By pp222, he presents bubbles emerging that are selected by a control level that is built into the complexification of modular structure. The chosen output from one modular structure, picked because it represents new rules that offered the best result based upon prior experience. Replaced or upgraded when better protocols or rules offer better results still.

Who reads even the broad sentiment of this build up, and cannot see a comparison to the organisational challenges in projects we externalise every day?

My next psychology focused blog will introduce communication decisions, as cost-benefit decisions of the brain.

About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here:

No project is an island

A project as “Time-bound intended change

I am attempting to find a way to link projects across a wider (the widest possible) spectrum of application. To include projects from more than just the organisational and commercial parameters we generally have in mind. How often have project discussion found their respective experts at cross-purposes when in open dialogue? It cannot just be me that falls into that trap regularly on LinkedIn.

But then, why stop there? What can we share from wider project thinking? My wife would tell you I was a “project” when we first met – she would also argue I have become others since. My garden overhaul was a project. Fad diets. Training for an event. My career steps. Each piece of coursework at university, they are called projects. We have projects of exploration, research, development, preservation, consolidation, reputation, persuasion. Projects intent on destruction, protection, isolation, and intervention. Malevolent and benevolent, inclusive or divisive, legal or illegal, reclaiming or defending. They can represent an ideology and span generations, be about control of resources, or boundaries, or races for glory or survival. Or they may be much briefer time spans of intended change – even if the change intended is simply halting what others will to be.

I am going to argue that everything we enact can fit within the framework of a project. That all we do as human beings is a project when it is “time-bounded intended change“. My motive is simple. I want to find that common link to all our interventions. And use that to add wider challenge to what it is we fail to see. “No project is an island”, (Mats Engwall 2003), and I believe even the projects we identify with are themselves containing, influencing, competing, and part of, many more.

If you can think of anything that sits beyond these parameters of a project as “time-bound intended change“, I really want to know.

A project. Definitions from wiser folk than me

I offer some of the best definitions that offer a more acknowledged view:

A unique, once-in-a-lifetime task; with a predetermined date of delivery; being subject to one or several performance goals (such as resource usage and quality); consisting of some complex and/or interdependent activities Packendorff (1995 pp320).

APMBoK pp44 provides further project specific definition as “Temporary Structures” or “Temporary Organisations”.

Matthew B Miles (1964) “On Temporary Systems”. In a letter of 1977, Miles reminds us of some key concepts and constructs from his 1964 work. This rejoinder is aimed at Goodman and Goodman who he felt had inadequately represented origins or context of the term. “I content myself with inviting the authors, and other readers, to examine the original discussion” (Miles, 1964), of such “temporary-system features as goal and role redefinition, the consequence of heightened communication for power equalization, and the development of norms … supporting authenticity, inquiry, change, and effortless as a predictable aspect of any time-limited system” (ibid)”.

Engwall (1992) offers a challenge to the isolated and unique considerations presumed in both characteristics and factors of success of temporary structures “this calls for an ontological change; instead of lonely and closed systems, projects have to be conceptualized as contextually-embedded open systems, open in time as well as in ‘space’” (Engwall 1992 pp790).

This is a direct lift from my dissertation of 2020, pp22. The references are well known, and choices were intentionally reflective of acknowledged subject matter experts. The title of this post must also be credited to Engwall 2003.

About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here: