The Iron Triangle - is it more malleable than we thought?
Hazel Woodcock 270002KYG8 Visits (1947)
The Iron Triangle... you know the one; Time, Cost and Quality, you can improve one or two of those, but only at the expense of the other(s). I learned about this a long time ago and was led to believe that it was fixed.
What if that is a flatland approach? What if it isn't a triangle at all, but a pyramid. Time, Cost and Quality are the edges of the pyramid. That makes them the points of the cross-section triangles. How do we move up the pyramid, to make our triangle smaller?
It isn't as crazy as it sounds. If you want to improve Time, Cost AND Quality then you need better process, or better trained people, or better tooling - or all three of those things. There is no simple answer to exactly how to do this, but next time you are investing in process, people or tools consider that along with all the other things that you use to justify the expense, it really comes down to moving up that iron pyramid. Less time wasted on inefficiencies of process, people who thoroughly understand the work, and tool improvements such as increased automation, improved collaboration, or live reporting. These all improve the overall time, cost, quality equation.
Great! we moved up the pyramid, our triangle is smaller. Now to decide where in our new, smaller iron triangle we want to operate. The decisions still have to be made, some routes to a smaller triangle will give you a temporarily larger triangle as the change may be very disruptive. Small process improvements or well designed change programs can ease the journey, maybe the 'size' of the triangle is a good overall metric to monitor to see what has worked.