Participative project management: some thoughts

Diagram as described on the phone below (it's a slide from a presentation, so more indicative than prescriptive!, but a good guide).

The numbers? Relatively few (under 100) in that early RESEARCH phase, then up to 1,000 in the PILOT phase then... up to 50+ million or beyond in the MASSIFICATION phase. You need facilitators early on and the facilitator-to-participant ratio falls as the project matures (remember party analogy).

Great tools need to be authored early on and (this is the hard bit) need to be capable of ITERATION. This takes a lot of time (we should maybe start right now for CoL?). The usual project start-up sees the developers saying:

"you can't change that at this early stage"

and then

"it's too late to change now, you should have said earlier".

Hah! For a successful project you need a team who say "try this, but if you don't like anything let us know and we may change it. Thanks". Which is a message I literally sent out to some pioneer schools, again, today.

You can see that the early costs are thus high, but the marginal costs in the MASSIFICATION phase are low. This is hard because people like to see solid success before putting in the real money. They can't, which is why instead they go with people with a rack record of success (which is why we are flourishing I imagine). When we launched the press asked what, after some £5m, we had on the server to show for it all (we had also put a kids' computer lab into every Tesco store in the UK by the way, by then), but all we could say initially was that the server and the store labs were "filled with opportunity". Of course, it was true, and shortly the children took that opportunity to fill the server with their participative contributions. Sticky moment thus averted!

Anyway, here's the slide:

Finally we think the government should go to tender right at the end of the four year development cycle. Typically they go way too early and end up in contract wars with suppliers who didn't know what was wanted and don't know how to deliver it now they do understand!

Ask for more if you need it...

Prof Stephen Heppell
Ultralab 2001