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Home > Start-Middle-End Methodology

Start-Middle-End Methodology


Generic, Minimalistic, for small and mini projects, and specific tasks on the 'task versus project borderline' (too small for a project, too big for a task). SME is the latest methodology for managing complex tasks that can be regarded as mini projects. In case of SME, the difference between project and Business as Usual (BaU) is not so evident. Moreover, line functions can trigger mini projects. So projects can be anywhere in the organization, or across people networks.

The advantage of SME is recognition of project skills without the bureaucracy and complexity of academically oriented methodologies, bodies of knowledge and standards. It is a stepping stone, from lack of project awareness to simple project management, to complex project management.

Start-Middle-End has three lifecycle stages and five perspectives. Perspectives consist of elements which relate to Start, Middle, or End (a particular moment in time).




Start-Middle-End - Context


Start-Middle-End has three lifecycle stages and five perspectives. Perspectives consist of elements which relate to Start, Middle, or End (a particular moment in time).

The first perspective is Context, consisting of three elements: As-Is, Change, and To-Be. As-Is relates to Start, Change relates to Middle, and To-Be relates to End.

Context implies an analysis of the current situation and an idea of the ideal, or improved situation. Change in the middle is an inclusive concept. It is not limited to change management activity. Change may represent any kind of project or programme work, and thus delivery, necessary to change situation. This includes delivery of an end product, often associated with projects. Often, Change has unique features. Either projects deliver something unique, or change involves unique circumstances. For example, unique teams of individuals with specific skills, knowledge, and personalities. It should be noted that projects can be based on proven solutions. This implies a degree of similarity, across projects.


Start-Middle-End - Project behaviour duality


The second perspective is Project Behaviour Duality. Duality means that behaviour is a spectrum or pattern influenced by opposing concepts and underlying forces.

In the context of Start, at the beginning of the process of change or delivery, the two opposing concepts are: 1) Top-down incentives or directives, and 2) Visionary. Unlike Top-down execution of directives, Visionary change agents (or project leaders) are driven by autonomy. These agents may develop some kind of vision rooted in 1) the need for change, 2) optimzation, 3) improvement, 4) opportunity, etc.

In the context of Middle, key individuals of the project or change may develop either Consistent or Adaptive behaviour, or a combination. Consistent behaviour is introduced here as an alternative for Adaptive behaviour, which has roots in Agile thinking. The meaning of Consistent behaviour is that the process of change - in the middle - is gradual and predictive. Hence, consisten behaviour contribes to stability. Consistent behaviour has a positive connotation, unlike the waterfall delivery model that clashed with Agile theory, according to Agile-Watefall discussion.

In the context of End, project behaviour is usually a choice between ongoing transformation, in demand of transformational leadership, and Closure, marking the end of change. Closure may trigger project members and stakeholders to celebrate success. It is important to communicate the end results to stakeholders. And secondly, Closure should trigger the activity to Identify Follow-on Actions. Even when there is a clear end some kind of activity may need to be continued.


Start-Middle-End - Organizational behaviour


The third perspective is: Organizational Behaviour. HybridP3M teaches that projects and programmes are not stand-alone organizations. They are part of networks of organizations and people. The organizational context of projects is important because human interaction crosses project boundaries. The relation between Start-Middle-End and the larger organizations in which the "project of change" is situated depends on a number of elements. More specifically, organizational Enterprise Functions.

In the context of Start, the two main elements are 'Facilitate Directives' and 'Support Vision'. Facilitate Directives ranges from Project Direction to Project Support. Project Direction mainly depends on higher management. Large projects often introduce Project Boards composed of different roles, but in small projects project members simply report to their superiors (officers, managers, bosses). Project Support assumes that higher management has a support role, usually ad hoc based on the latest project needs. But Project Support can be located elsewhere, including the Project Management Office, or less formal Communities of Practice. Closely related to Facilitate Directives, is the element of 'Rewarding alignment with top-down incentives' (not depicted in the main diagram). In this particular case, project leaders and change agents are driven by incentives and when project outcomes are aligned with business objectives, they should be rewarded, especially when succcess can be identified and measured.

In the context of Middle, the organization has the responsibility of 'Providing resources'. Every project depends on resources, even small projects. Allocation of resources is a responsibility of senior management. It should be noted that allocation of resources implies that there is project, programme, or change mandate. This mandate can be informal. The second organizational function in the context of Middle is 'Knowledge sharing'. Exchange of data, information, and knowledge, combined with leadership enables teams to produce deliverables, but also change in behaviour (short term or long term, depending on changes in organizational culture), and with such behavioural change, change in organizational status quo or performance.

In the context of End, the two elements are: 1) Continue the change, and 2) Acknowledge effort / success. Initial success may trigger continuation of work elsewhere in the organization. Acknowledgement of work contributes to employee satisfaction and increases loyalty.


Start-Middle-End - Network behaviour


The fourth perspective and layer in SME is 'Network behaviour'. Network behaviour transcend organizational boundaries and also has an impact on change and projects.

There are three main elements. In the context of Start, networks may start to challenge the Status Quo, whatever that may be or look like. People networks may adopted change that started very small, and amplify or progress that change in the context of large groups. An analogy can be drawn be the spiral model of Knowledge Creation, created by Nonaka.

In the context of Middle, networks may enable team members to acquire extertise from external sources. This especially applies to project work that depends on specialist knowledge and skills.

In the context of End, networks may congratulate the change agent or product delivery team with success. Online gratulation related to somekind of professional achievement is for example commonplace on social media.


Start-Middle-End - Trade-off Capability


The final perspective is 'Trade-off Capability'. This trade-off is a human decision between the level of predictive capability and agile capability, in percentage. This decision is based on analysis of organizational and invididual capability in the context of the beginning of the project (that is, Start). This involves a trade-off. because predictive capability and agile capability conflict with each other rather than complement. So the trade-off is a split, for example, 20% Predictive and 80% Agile, or vice versa.

In the context of Middle, the Trade-off from Start has a key impact on two things: 1) Planning Horizin, and 2) Control. Predictive capability increases the planning horizon, whereas agile capability decreases the planning horizon. The Planning Horizon is a concept of foresigh. It is about predicting progress, events, and change. Secondly, predictive capability increases control, whereas agile capability decreases control. Control may rely on the principles of management-by-exception (depending on the accuracy of baseline plans), and management-by-stages (adopted from PRINCE2 and HybridP3M).

In the context of End, there are two important activities that SME recommends. First, to archive the baseline plan for future reference, or potentially evaluation purposes. And second, to evaluate the predictions. Such evaluation can be used in the context of analysis of predictive capability at the organizational or individual level.