In you’ve never heard of Dora, then you don’t have kids.
“Dora the Explorer” is a Nickelodeon charactar who travels her magical world with her pet monkey boots. At the beginning of each adventure, she asks the children, “who knows which way to go?….The Map!”. When asked which way to go, the map declares: “through the Grassy Field, over the Windy Hill, and that’s how we’ll get to Play Park.”
Then he repeats it: “Grassy Field => Windy Hill => Play Park”.
After many episodes, each enjoyed by my three sucessive children, I’ve had my share of Dora. However, the real surprise came when I noticed myself mimicing Dora and her map.
One day, my wife and I were arguing over the logistical details of a busy weekend. After several minutes of back and forth, I had had enough and said:
“Soccer, groceries, restaurant.”
“Yes dear”, my wife says, “but there are more details that you need to understand”.
“I know that, but I can’t organize those details until I know the big picture”
“But if you neglect the details, you’ll lose time. If you forget to bring the shopping list to to soccer, you’ll have to drive back to the house.”
“I’m not neglecting the details, I just can’t handle it all right now. I’ll cover each task’s details when I get to it”
Soccer => Groceries => Restaurant.
3 Milestones. How many times are we tempted to plan down to the minutest detail, just so that we don’t forget something? That temptation is born out of experience: I forget stuff all the time….yet, somehow I still survive. It’s a tricky task to balance the fear of previous failures with my mental limits. I can only remember of document so much, before it just gets overwhelming.
That conversation with my wife was a turning point. From then on, I’ve made a habit of decomposing the complexity of the day into 3 or 4 major milestones, and then implement them with Just-in-time detail. In PMBOK terms, these could be the phases of a single-day project. In Agile terms, these could be the day’s prioritized backlog.
So, if you want to live out PM best practices in your daily domestic life, then break it down…Dora style.