Friday 18 August 2023

Project Thinking Tool: "Point, Line, Block" Thinking

Project Thinking

To do project management, the most important emphasis is to have systematic thinking and be able to grasp the overall situation. But in a project, the objects managed, whether "people" or "things", are often points one by one. How to manage these points clearly and clearly, how to do it with ease, in addition to accumulating knowledge and borrowing tools, the most important thing is the thinking method.

Complexity is always made up of simplicity, which is a basic principle of how we understand things. And the creation of any system must be the accumulation of countless "simple". Based on the accumulation of personal experience in technology and management, I summarized a thinking tool, named PLPB thinking (PLPB, Point, Line, Plane, Block), or "point, line, block" thinking. It may seem simple to understand, but if you do things according to the principles of a thinking tool, you will find it so effective!

I don't want to make complex models but give a familiar example to illustrate how this thinking tool is used. Take a new software project as an example, from requirements analysis to demo design, we need to follow the following four steps:

Step 1: 

from the business personnel to obtain a large number of scattered knowledge "points", we must try to obtain detailed knowledge points, even if some of them will be discarded after analysis, in the demand research to record every detail, each process, every link of the process, leave every document, every sketch, picture or photo drawn by the customer, as much as possible, as long as it is related to the business, it is best to get.

Step 2: 

How to deal with such a messy pile of things? It's a process similar to stripping the cocoon. Doing this step requires a certain knowledge base, which is how many "classes" you have in your head. For these "points", you must be able to analyze, sort out, classify, and sort (chronological, hierarchical, etc.) according to keywords, attribute characteristics, individual classification, time, etc., so as to organize these "points" into "lines" with key characteristics. In the software design process, usually the first thing is to sort out the classes according to the characteristics and form a class diagram or an example diagram of the database.

Step 3: 

Analyze the logical relationship of these classes, use the "line" of the relationship, such as: containing, connecting, calling, sending and other actions or logical relationships, "line-line interaction", planning to form one "surface" after another, such as E-R diagram, class relationship diagram.

Step 4: 

Then conduct new logical relationship analysis on these "lines" and "surfaces", and associate and classify them through new "lines" such as action relationships, time series relationships, business relationships, etc., forming "blocks", submodules, and subsystems. Then treat these "blocks" as "points", through the above repeated analysis and sorting, we can form a complex and clear system.

Project Manager Alliance article, deep dive.

In the above process, it is mainly about combination, but many times it is also necessary to split some lines, surfaces, and blocks, and the "paradigm" idea of database design is particularly obvious. This split is for a more convenient combination, which in technical terms is to amplify the "granularity" of the data and reduce the "coupling" of the system.

Through the above examples, we can clearly see that creating a system is not very difficult, the key is to be able to grasp the "logical features", so as to categorize, correlate, from "points" to "lines", and then form "surfaces" and "blocks". Do things the most afraid of eyebrows and beards to grab, overnight. If you are not organized and hasty, you will inevitably lose everything and all kinds of problems will arise.

Maybe someone will propose what lines, surfaces, blocks, isn't this logical thinking? Yes, but the contribution of this tool is how to use logic to build scattered "points" into "blocks". In the IT industry, from learning programming to designing a complete and complex system, it is a big leap, and it is also an insurmountable gap for many people, so that there is a division of labor between programmers and system architects!

Each system is composed of a series of logical relationships, and the key to using "point, line, and block" thinking is to be familiar with these logical relationships, various classifications, and various rules, which can be obtained through learning and knowledge accumulation. But it is a little regrettable that even if many people learn logic and classification, they do not know how to use it. 

If you have such confusion, the most important point of the thinking tool is to prompt you to start from the "point" "Line", then to "face", "block", without thinking about changing from "point" to "block" in one step!

We will use this thinking tool in too many places, we mentioned above is the construction of software systems, but the writing of design documents, PPT, project plans, etc. will be used, strictly in accordance with this tool combined with the traditional Indian "symmetrical balance" thinking, each product sorted out will be rigorously structured, clear and complete.

Apply this thinking tool to project management, sort out and integrate all kinds of "points" in the project, classify them in 9 knowledge areas, and run through them according to 5 major processes, you can think clearly about all aspects of project management, so as to truly use "system thinking" to manage the project.

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