Nearly Universal Principles of Projects

Prefer results and the truth to affiliations

We all have a natural tendency to belong to groups, a tendency that often goes beyond its basic form, creates strong affiliations, and causes problems. We lose a lot more than we gain because of affiliations. We can become more professional and effective experts if we don’t limit our identity and preferences to certain groups.

Example: Agile vs waterfall

A group of highly enthusiastic people who were brave enough to try adaptive development approaches in IT development at the time when the norm was to use predictive approaches got together and called their approach “Agile”. This was a great initiative to not limit choices to what seemed to be necessary. There are still many enthusiastic and result-oriented people in the Agile community, but unfortunately, there are also some people in this community who turn Agile into a cult and consider all outsiders as enemies. This causes problems in multiple ways, including the following:

This problem can be significantly reduced, if not removed, by using “Agile” only as a label that refers to a development approach rather than as a community with members; and by having people who consider themselves creators, problem solvers, and leaders, who see Agile simply as one of the enablers under their belt rather than as their identity.

There’s no Agile-waterfall war for real professionals.

Example: PRINCE2® vs PMBOK® Guide

There are many professionals in the community who associate themselves with either PRINCE2® or PMBOK® Guide (usually because of their geographical location) and are not familiar with the other. We can all have preferences toward certain resources, but not as our identity, and more importantly, we must familiarize ourselves with all of them to widen our perspective and choices.

The real professional is open to all ideas, looking for them, learning about them, and using them as and when needed, without affiliations.

Example: Continuous learning

Affiliations satisfy the person due to the feeling of belonging they engender, but don’t push them to learn, and sometimes even discourage them from learning for fear of losing them. When you’re a free person, an expert without affiliations, you need to fill in the gap with learning: with continuous learning.

What we believe in today is not the truth. It’s merely our best understanding so far, which has to be improved as we go on. There’s something wrong if one’s ideas are exactly the same as what they were a few years ago. This is even the case for NUPP: if you come back after a few years and see the exact same thing, you should become suspicious.

Example: Openness

When objecting to someone, make sure you’re aiming your objection at the idea, and not the person. This helps prevent a lot of tensions. In a similar vein, when someone is objecting to or about you, try not to interpret it as a war against you, but rather a discussion of your ideas, and stay open to it. Don’t listen to respond, listen to understand; and work with the other person to improve the idea.

Some people may intentionally target you instead of the idea, in which case, you should help them focus on the idea instead of on you before proceeding, and try to keep it like that throughout the conversation.

discussion icon NUPP is open-source and published for free under a Creative Commons license.

discussion icon Share your opinion or ask questions on this LinkedIn page.

discussion icon Written by: Nader K. Rad

discussion icon The one-page version of NUPP, suitable for print or for making PDF files.