True Story: Lessons from Chess applied in Project Management helped Sushil win a large contract.
Sushil had submitted a large proposal to one of his customers, Miami Technologies (MT). However, the proposal had been rejected by Richard, Director at MT. Richard felt that the schedule proposed by Sushil was not meeting MT’s expectations. Sushil knew that his team would not be able to deliver two major releases within the short duration proposed by Richard. He had to safeguard the interests of his team, while at the same time try and win the contract.
While battling this debate in his mind, Sushil got the opportunity to attend one of the Project Management workshops conducted by The EPMA. During the workshop Sushil learnt about how techniques used by Chess players could be implemented in project management. This technique called Thread Analysis helps an individual to think about different future scenarios and plan a strategy for each scenario. Sushil applied the concept of Thread Analysis to plan his negotiation strategy with Richard. He had to plan for all possible scenarios on what Richard might say. At the same time, he tried crunching the schedule after consulting his team but there was minimal scope for crunching the schedule as the requirements were quite complex. He had no option but to convince Richard on the schedule. He requested his team to create a product backlog and identify the must have, should have and can have requirements. This helped him prioritize the requirements before he approached Richard.
Having prepared ahead of time for all scenarios that Richard could enter, Sushil went to meet him at his office. As they started discussing the proposal, Sushil explained to Richard about agile methodology of development and recommended to plan requirements as sprint cycles. As part of the Sprints, Sushils team would pick up the must have requirements first and close them as part of the Richards expected schedule. This would help the end customers of MT to start using the product with the main features while Sushils team continued to work on the other lesser important requirements. Obviously impressed, Richard sat back in his chair to think about this, more in detail. Maintaining a calm face, Sushil was extremely nervous as he waited for Richard to take a decision. Sushil went through other scenarios in his mind to plan for his next response in case Richard was still not convinced. If Richard wanted to crunch the schedule even further, Sushil would have to overlap some sprints. Sushil understood the risks involved in the process and he started thinking of how to highlight the same to Richard if this scenario was discussed.
After a few moments (which seemed like an eon to Sushil) of doing some rough calculations on his notepad, Richard looked up and smiled broadly. He immediately stood up and extended his hand towards Sushil for a hand shake. Taken by surprise, Sushil got on his feet immediately and extended his hand as well. Richard shook it vigorously and said, “Sushil, my boy, you have a deal!!! I am extremely pleased with the strategic direction proposed by your team. I applaud your understanding of my Business and the urgency of these requirements. I will recommend your team to the other Directors at MT as well.”
Amongst all the scenarios that the Thread Analysis had helped Sushil prepare, this particular scenario was something that Sushil had not thought of. Sushil was relieved, happy and excited at the same time. In his heart, he thanked his team for all the preparation for the meeting and TheEPMA for introducing him to Thread Analysis.
P.S. – This is a True Story. However, to protect the identity of the participant and his client, names and titles have been changed.