Project Geography Part Two: Rural and Ultra-Rural

Aug 19 07:59 2011 Robert Steele Print This Article

The way civilization works within geography is a large-scale metaphor for the way projects work in the business world. There are four gradations of civilization today; Urban, Suburban, Rural, and Ultra-rural. (This article is part two of two.)

In my last article,Guest Posting I talked about how civilization and geography can be a metaphor for how projects function within the business world. I used the example of urban and suburban city life, showing how some projects can reflect urbanity’s conveniences while other projects can reflect the suburban world of less convenience. By “convenience” in project management I had meant the level of resource and financial availability. I also referred to the level of geographical security that urban and suburban cities offered against natural forces such as the weather. Projects likewise have a “geography,” and depending on the project there are various levels of security. Below, I wish to address the projects that metaphorically reflect a state of “rural” and “ultra-rural” existence.

Rural Projects

First, when its nighttime in a rural town, just about everyone goes to sleep. When its raining, people simply stay inside. If someone wants Chinese take-out, tough luck. Only one local grocery store, several farmers markets, and a personal garden is what keeps a person alive in a rural town. There is no nearby movie theater or dance club.

Projects can be in a rural setting. This is when projects are essentially constrained by natural forces. To understand this, I’ll refer back to an urban project. An example of an urban project would be an undertaking to secure a social network’s sensitive data. The work for this project comes right to your door like delivery pizza in an urban city. A rural project, however, would be more like the actual creation of a new social network. There, the project manager is stepping into a more foreign geography, where there are no midnight conveniences. The project manager must work with serious change. When the marketing campaigns fall asleep, forcing them awake is going to be unproductive. Like a rural gas station, the resources are closed at certain times of day. Like a heavy rain in a farmers field, the new social network will stand under a storm of angry customers, washing out all the labor if things aren’t managed right.

Ultra-Rural Projects

The people living in ultra-rural environments are very few today. Ultra-rural villages are less than a hundred people, perhaps as small as ten people. To survive is to hunt, fish, and or manage small farms. People make their own homes, clothes, and entertainment. The geography is everything. If there’s food on the mountain, then that’s where a person must go.

The ultra-rural projects are those whose boundaries are entirely unknown, those ideas that have never before been introduced into the world. Bringing those ideas forward too soon is like harvesting the crops too soon. Bringing those ideas forward too late is like letting a deer run away when your starving. If the ideas are in a seriously stressed environment, like in a rain storm, those ideas can’t be brought out until it stops. A project like this does not have outsourcing as an option. Project managers make their own tools and processes. The team works together or not at all. Such projects are those that no one ever thought would be successful. Whether it is a project to create unprecedented intelligence software, a project in the military against overwhelming odds, a simple project to write a new book, or a project to build homes for humanitarian service in a new country, the ultra-rural projects are tremendous feats.

Overall, between urban, suburban, rural, and ultra-rural projects, the pros and cons are up to one’s own perspective. There are conveniences and securities offered in the urban, while there are great thrills and satisfactions in the accomplishment of the ultra-rural. Suburban and rural come right in between.

What type of project management environment do you prefer?

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About Article Author

Robert Steele
Robert Steele

Combining his personal experiences, social observations, and a variety of philosophies, Robert Steele provides explanations to the best practices of modern business management. He is an avid contributor to the ongoing discussion regarding the modern implications of project management software.

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