The tree swing analogy first came out in the 1970s and many variants came later on different subjects, such as software and management. It depicts the difference of how each department interprets and implements a requirement in the development of a tree swing. The variation of the cartoon on perception gaps in software development projects first came out in 2003. Then it became popular among the management to address issues when projects did not go the right way. Someone blames the pitfalls in communication, such as not listening to the client, but it also reveals the problems in product development and reminds anyone involved what to do and what not to do.

Look at this cartoon.

  1. When a customer describes what s/he wants, it tends to be true that s/he always overstates it.
  2. The product owner gathers the customer's requirement and summaries it.
  3. Engineers follow PO's summary and make it work. Well, to some extent...
  4. Then programmers will write it. However, when you test it, it is not workable.
  5. Finally, we have a product, so the sales can start their job by exaggerating its features.
  6. When you want to check the document, it is always nowhere to be found.
  7. What the operations build is simply a rope. Gosh, I don't know what to say.
  8. Customers are billed for extraordinary experiences.
  9. The way Helpdesk solves problems is just simple and "radical".
  10. Voila! It turns out what the customer truly wants is just a simple tire swing.


Communication: The Big "C"

A project is about a bunch of various people working together to meet the requirements. The role of a project manager is to monitor details through strategic, efficient and meaningful conversations on a project. "About 90% of the time in a project is spent on communication by the project manager". As it is known, communication is a very important element of any well-organized project. Therefore, project management is not just tools and processes.

A project is usually done by several departments, which means cross-functional collaboration is required. The information flow from one department to another is done by documents and meetings. Everyone should know what the other team member is doing. If one asked for a leave, others could do his work and know exactly where to start. The project could be delayed, if the communication fails and no one knows what he has been doing and no one can replace him.

The importance is also emphasized in Scrum events. For example, the Daily Scrum. Daily Scrum is a time-boxed short meeting for about 15 minutes and held every morning with team members before they start to do the work for today. It aims to inspect what everyone of the project team is doing and inform what he plans to finish today. By doing Daily Scrum, it keeps every one of the team on the same page.

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Project Management Association of Canada

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