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The Idea

The ideas we've talked about so far (Principle 2, “Know what you're trying to do,” Principle 3, “There is always a sequence of events,” and Principle 4, “Things don't get done if people don't do them”) provide a framework for getting things done. Principle 5, “Things rarely turn out as expected,” points out that things will almost certainly turn out differently from the way Principles 2 through 4 might have led us to believe. Given that this is so, we need a way of finding out how things are actually progressing.

Again, the textbooks have no shortages of ways to help us—percentage complete, earned value, milestones passed, number of tasks complete, percentage of budget expended. The list is endless. For exponents of common sense, there is a measure that comes much closer to the core of the problem. That measure is to say that once we have our sequence of events and once we know who's doing what, then each job on the sequence of events can only exist in one of two states. Either it's done or—failing that—it's not done.


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