Often I have so many ideas in my head that I have to write them down for fear that they may get lost in the whirlwind brewing inside my head. I get tempted to convert some of these ideas into projects. If these ideas are marketable, I give them a swing. I then go about and set up these projects. I outline the strategy and plan for the same.

I lose steam or motivation midway.

After a few weeks, when I have the project about 25% complete, I get distracted from the duties of making a living, and by the time I return to work on these projects, I have lost the motivation to work on them. The efforts feel tedious, or the entire project seems like a humungous endeavour which I was a fool to undertake.

The feeling of giving up on these projects leads to low morale and depression. I mean, for heaven’s sake, what was I thinking? What got me excited? Why did I put in the initial efforts towards the same? All those self-negating thoughts crisscross my mind, and finally, I find some escapism route by blaming a third party for it.

So I ask myself, where am I getting into these repeated patterns of not being able to execute my projects?

A Project needs two criteria to be met.

  1. A start and finish time

  2. Resources

Why do you need a start and finish time?

A project has a goal. It could be getting the MVP ready or adding a few more features to it. The effort required to accomplish the same has to be calculated, and the job to achieve the exact needs to be distributed and matched to the skill or the talent you have.

Note - An AI assistant wrote the text Highlighted .

Projects are complicated but not complex. If it is complex, you shouldn’t undertake it.

Eliyahu Goldratt claims that every complex system has inherent simplicity. Check out more here

What is the difference between complicated and complex systems?

A complicated system can be user-friendly and predictable, can be solved by one person , and have multiple solutions. It follows a certain pattern.

A complex system , on the other hand, has lots of variables and unknown entities , which makes it unpredictable. It also has multiple solutions, but it is more complex to solve than a complicated system.

So, it is necessary to know if your project is complicated or complex . This will help in the proper estimation of time and resources . If it is complex, you must understand that you might achieve your goals obliquely.

Definition of Obliquely

Obliquity (highlights) means indirect or roundabout, as in not following a direct path. If a project is complex and needs to be done, it can be done , but more often than not, the results will be oblique.

If you are working on a complex project, you only want to keep the system stable as far as possible; otherwise, you risk absolute chaos. Here is where the Cynefin framework can help. It will prompt you on how to handle such complex projects.

A brief on Cynefin Framework

This framework is based on the principles of chaos theory. It talks about four domains – obvious, complex, chaotic, and disordered. Accordingly, actions are required to be taken for each domain. Read more Cynefin - Weaving Sense-Making Into the Fabric of Our World (highlights)

In conclusion, it is essential to understand the project and evaluate whether it is complicated or complex.

Some Examples of Complex Systems

The State, Social Networks, Business Ecosystem, Ecology of an ecosystem, Economic Structures

Some Personal examples I have found to be complex.

Health - A perfect example would be something like your health. You don’t have enough information about your body to be in a particular state of fitness. You are constantly listening to the feedback from your body by being aware and then working on the area which needs the most attention.

Writing Fiction - Another example of complexity is writing fiction without an outline. Suppose you are a first-time fiction novel writer; you know exactly what I mean. This is why some authors take as much as ten years to complete a book while others can do it in three weeks flat. In this case, both the writers began the book as a project while one managed to write an entire novel in three weeks; the other took, say, four years.

This is when projects become processes.

In the above case, a complicated project due to a need for clarity, skill, or resource turns into a complex one. So we do not call it a project. We call it an area or a process. A process needs to be perfected till you are good enough to execute it as a project.

What I mean is that to solve the complexity at hand, you either need to get that clarity (which is a function of time), acquire a skill preventing you from the flow required to complete a project, or get a resource. You should say you have clarity and get the necessary skills, but you need more time to finish a novel in six weeks because you cannot afford to lose your job. In this case, you need to work on building enough emergency funds that you can risk taking a break from your job. Here building that emergency fund is a process which is a stepping stone to accomplishing your project.

Please identify these stepping stones preventing you from turning your complete project into a complicated one and reaching your goals.

Summing this up

You either need enough resources to make the project achieve its goal or know or have all the intermediate steps to achieve your end goal. If you start the project and it transforms into something else, you have reached an oblique goal. Leaving a project midway means you need more skills or resources to make the project possible.

So please don’t have any hard feelings if you quit projects as you are still developing your skills and gathering resourcing. One day when you have all the intermediate skills and resources covered, you will achieve your goals.