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  • claremayell

Don't Fall Off that High-Wire

Updated: Mar 4, 2021

Project delivery can be like tightrope walking sometimes.

I’m sure you know what I mean – you’ve been there too. High up in the air, adrenaline starting to build, trying to balance but wobbling with a long way to fall down.

You’re clear that your goal is to get to the other side but as soon as you put your foot on that wire, things start to bounce around.

So, what can you do to smooth the tightrope crossing ? How can you anticipate the challenges to insure you get across safely?

End Point

Commitment from the get-go. As you lift your foot to get on to that project wire, you need to have confidence that everything is ready - you've thought of everything. You can gaze at where you are going with focus and balance, not the wire underneath your feet.

A pre-mortem of anything that could go wrong before your project starts is the same as knowing where to place your feet on the wire.

Moments of Inertia

Tightrope walkers often carry a pole. This is to even out what are known as 'moments of inertia'. When these happens the walker has to correct themselves. The weight of the pole, like an extension to arms, allows any small wobbles about them to happen more slowly. It provides a longer time period of oscillation, meaning the walker has more time to respond and restore the equilibrium.

Of course, you can’t carry a long pole around. Checking the context to your end point and reviewing the information you have, allows you to adjust easily to those moments of inertia. It lowers the risk of falling and failing.

You can make it look effortless, when actually, you are juggling complex challenges.

Optimal Rope Sag

Back to walking the tightrope.

“Keeping steady on a stationary plank or beam is hard enough, but a rope adds the destabilising element of motion. A rope not only sways but also moves in response to a person's movement, forcing the walker to constantly change position" says L. Mahadevan in an applied mathematician and scientist in his study.

Movement of the rope, amplifies small errors very easily. It’s the same for projects, constant small amends, lack of information and complexity make your project rope sway.

The good news is that you can find your sweet spot – the ‘optimal sag’. The rope or wire being walked on, needs to sag a little – not too taught, not too slack. Each walker develops their own through constant practice. Finding your project's optimal sag will give you flexibility.

Start your project confidently, keep your eyes on the destination, carry your ‘virtual’ pole and find your sweet spot for optimal rope sag. Like they say, practice makes perfect.

At Projects that Deliver, we make treading your project high wire effortless. We can help you confidently cross that tightrope with absolute balance, full composure, minimal wobbles and no fear of falling. We love talking about projects so get in touch with us about your complex or stuck projects and book an initial conversation.


Definition: funambulist - C18: from Latin fūnambulus rope dancer, from fūnis rope + ambulāre to walk.


If you have some spare time check out these funambulists:

You can even learn tight rope walk at home!

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