PARA 7 Creating a Project Network

Productivity Eras

Value Era à Goals Eraà Process Era

We are 12 years into process era (generally last about 25 years)

Might have gone overboard in process vs outcome. Outcomes matter

Need to switch from prescribing means to describing ends

Old: We will do X, then Y will happen and we will end up with Z. Just follow the plan

New: Describe end state of project in vivid, objective detail. Focus on creating something immediately and inherently valuable

Example: instead of “deliver training manual” first ask “what will manual improve, enable, accomplish” and work backwards for a more vivid goal. IF you want to accelerate employee onboarding, maybe we need online training, not manual. Or maybe we wre trying to minizmie legal risks, so go ahead with a simple boilerplate manual

If a group of people who are working on this project cant agree and all just see “create manual”, that’s trouble.

This is hard. Some examples of means only, which are very common:

  • Launch website
  • Deliver new feature
  • Finalize marketing campaign
  • Read book

Instead something like:

  • Launch New Website: new website launched, with 10k unique visitors, 50k in sales, and 15% repeat customers by Nov 30, 2019”

No ambiguity, this is an end state. It’s a way to surface all the assumptions up front so you don’t get close to finish and realize you need to switch course.

Ironically, the faster things move and you need to respond, the farther and clearer you need to be on the end state

Desired outcomes are actually hypotheses.

Example: Forte Labs content is licensed to 5 people or businesses, producing $5k per month in revenue, by August 31, 2018

Good because its clear, but its also able to fail in a lot of ways (and you learn):

  • Once agreement signed, how long for a new license?
  • Who will end up being the customers?
  • How much can I charge? (implies 1k, but who knows)
  • How long is a contract?
  • How much lega work?
  • How much maintencance

Designed to be falsified


Your projects form a network, with interfaces defined by outcomes

Personal productivity network is a map of where you are, to where you want to be, two states of reality, with nodes of reality as the stepping stones in between. They are states of the world, not always tasks to do.

By mapping it out, you open up to serendipity. You can respond to changes in environment, opportunities. you go from fighting with each node to manaing the network and its various effects

Your projects are the tools in your personal productivity network.

  • Containers in which info flows, intelligence applied, work performed
  • Desired outcomes are interfaces between these nodes, so they can work together and become more than sum or parts
  • If project A is true, then Project B….
  • If a project is successful on its own, great, but will be lonely and no leverage.
  • You should be spending time managing project NETWORKS, not project NODES