Updated: Sep 15
Any person who has studied project management in the Information Technology field will be familiar with the 1975 bible on the subject titled ‘The Mythical Man Month‘ by Fred Brooks.
The premise of Brook’s text (known as Brook’s Law) is that adding additional resources (people) to a project speeds up the delivery of projects, but only up to a point. Once past this tipping point, every additional resource added actually has a negative affect on the outcome (delivery date) due to the additional overhead.
What does this have to do with Triathlon? Many of us want to succeed so badly, that we are always on the hunt for new ways to improve – ‘free speed’ of buying a new bike, $4000 wheels, a $400 carbon rear derailleur cage to save 1 Watt, or their third $400 bike fit in the last 18 months! The promises of super human recovery from sitting in compression boots between workouts, or enhanced skill acquisition from wearing a $700 pair of headphones prior to training!
However, just as complex programming projects cannot be perfectly partitioned into discrete tasks that can be worked on without communication between the workers and without establishing a set of complex interrelationships between tasks and the workers performing them; the constant ‘looking for clues‘ and the resulting never ending changing of training methods, workouts, equipment and recovery methods by Triathletes has a similar affect on their own ‘project management’ – i.e. themselves as athletes, and their race results.
Assigning more programmers to a project running behind schedule will make it even later, because the time required for the new programmers to learn about the project and the increased communication overhead will consume an ever increasing quantity of the calendar time available. A Triathlete constantly examining workout ‘data’ in minute detail, chopping and changing workouts, weekly structures, training methods and philosophies finds themselves in the exact same dilemma.
They are in a constant state of flux, never being able to ascertain what is working for them, and what is not. They never stay with one program long enough to understand their body and to see how it responds to training stimuli. When things are not going as they wish, they are lost. They have no standard routine to retreat to. Six pairs of cycling shoes, 3 changes of bike position, another new saddle…
Instead of ‘Looking for Clues‘, our TBF Training methodology directly combats this out of control approach with an emphasis on ‘Pick and Stick! Taking what so many triathletes consider is a very complex sport, and boiling it down into a simplified method. A repeatable plan that when given time and shown to be working, does not change for the sake of change. Losing 20% by looking for an additional 1% is rife in our sport – at all levels.
Brooks wrote: Question: How does a large software project get to be one year late? Answer: One day at a time!
It is no different in the triathlete community. Triathletes who after years of ‘looking for clues’ suddenly experience huge improvements are the norm at Trisutto.com
Just as in this classic book on the software development process, persistent myths never quite go away: every new generation just has to learn them over again. Triathlon is no different.