Winston Lawrence

Project Manager & Occasional developer

The John Cleese Theory: Applied Project Management

This post is a little different because it has videos! Actually Youtube has the videos and I'm merely linking to them but through the magic of the internet they sort of magically show-up in the context of this post. I haven't addressed any project management topics recently and after watching a Monty Python special on PBS, I started thinking about some of the John Cleese skits that I've seen over the years and realized that a lot of them had either a "business" or "government service" theme to them even back then.  Of course, if you are a Monty Python, Fawlty Towers or James Bond "Q" fan then you already know who John Cleese is, but there is also a side to John Cleese that you may not know. John Cleese the businessman and co-founder of a video production company, Video Arts, responsible for making entertaining (and now classic) training videos. The videos have been a staple in corporate management training departments for years. With a "Project Management" theme in mind, I did a search for some of the skits that I remembered and then found some more along the way and now you have my "John Cleese Theory: Applied Project Management" post so sit back and enjoy!

Client Interviews are an important step in documenting project requirements

Make sure that you meet with stakeholders to understand their needs and objectives.  Take notes and encourage stakeholders  to expand or more clearly define objectives that are left unstated or that may not be fully stated.

"I need a vacation" | The John Cleese Theory @

Project requirements may change - some change should be anticipated

As the project manager you expect that requirements may change, particularly during the initiation phase.  As requirements are documented, additional requirements may be recognized as pre-requisites or co-requisites that are necessary to achieve the project objectives. Some changes can be anticipated and should be allowed for in the project scope - so that when/if they do became requirements they can be accommodated without changing the scope.

"We Have Bruno" | The John Cleese Theory @

The Project Manager must ensure the Architecture and Design meet business requirements

Ever been to a design meeting where the client wants something and the architect wants something else? Hopefully this wasn't one of your meetings. The project manager must ensure that good communications are maintained with stakeholders and  team. The team must clearly understand the project requirements, objectives and deliverable so that when the team meets with the client the message being delivered by team and project manager is the same.

"Monty Python:The Architect" | The John Cleese Theory @

If you like my interpretation of the Cleese Project Management style then come back next week for Part two when I apply the Cleese style to the job market. Until then, here are pointers to a couple of his 'real' management training videos and you can order them here. John Cleese does not own the Video Arts company any more, he sold it back in the early nineties this is the company that now markets those videos. If you want to see current Cleese material then head over to his Cleeseblog and tell him I sent you (not that he has any idea who I am) .  Come back for next weeks post when the "John Cleese Theory" here at the Notebook takes on Job Search and Careers. Messing up a meeting mms://{04b893a6-ffe1-42b7-b4eb-df11d84003f0}/{18adb948-db1e-4e05-a44b-504a6b676093}/MBM7 FULL HIGH_1000001848_NoDRM.WMV Meeting Menaces mms://{04b893a6-ffe1-42b7-b4eb-df11d84003f0}/{18adb948-db1e-4e05-a44b-504a6b676093}/MBM8 FULL HIGH_1000001701_NoDRM.WMV

Note: You may have to copy and paste the mms: links into your browser address bar,

or else open up windows media player and post the mms: url directly into the player URL field in order to view the video.

Winston Lawrence

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