Project Rights

This is a list of various “rights” regarding projects that firms need to allocate to one or more parties. That’s a design problem that when poorly solved leads to too much or too little conflict. I gleaned this list from a paper I was reading yesterday (thanks Karim).

  • Right to make decisions
  • Right to initiate projects.
  • Right to ratify projects.
  • Right to implement projects
  • Right to monitor projects.
  • Right to evaluate projects.
  • Rights to own or capture the residuals created by projects.
  • Rights to stop projects.

Most institutions are in a continually renegotiating these things; it’s exhausting. Most of the literature on stage gates is an attempt to provide people with a template for taking the conflicts implicit and by proscribing a ritualized version of them reduce the amount of resources expended renegotiating them.

The paper gets to talking about what I call “swooping;” i.e. where management swoops down like a seagull grabs your dinner out of your hand and takes a crap on your head. In the paper it’s call “selective intervention.” The problem with swooping is that it causes the subordinates to raise their hurdle rate and back off their investment in the task at hand. Stage gates are, for all there many flaws, a way to try and frame up a contract about swooping, monitoring, evaluating.

I’m forever fascinated by how hard it can be to get the right to stop a project.

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