Analyzing Scope Creep

family reunion

 When family members are scattered all over the country and even the world, family reunions are playing an important role in bringing everyone together in one place. Family reunion give families a chance to reconnect and make new memories. In most families as in mine, individual members need to fly or drive long distances to be together, and planning a gathering like this can be a challenge. With that said I was tasked with planning our very first family reunion for about 30 of my nearest and dearest relatives.  I went head first into the project with no knowledge of the logistical challenges I was about to face.

I have learned quickly that coordinating a reunion is a daunting task, but there are several things I could done differently. I began with emails and Facebook notifications to each family members, asking them to reserve the date.  I later followed up with some choices of beaches closest to my hometown. I thought it would make sense to stay close to home since I was in charge of planning the reunion. Then everything changed, when suggestions stated pouring in.  Everyone had a unique idea for activities, destination, food, accommodation, and even date changes.  I ended spending more time than I planned making changes to accommodate everyone. Some people couldn’t afford the hotel choices, some wanted to rent houses so that we could be together, and others couldn’t stay for the duration.  We ended up two houses at the beach, but with that came more challenges since most people were from out of town. So now I was task with securing all the necessities needed to for the beach, such as beach chairs, towels, food, and transportations if we wanted to leave the house.  The project kept getting bigger and bigger and more expensive for me.  I believe I ended up spending more money than any other member just to pull it off.

As the coordinator, I should have stayed in charge and coordinated all the dates and venues. The project needed extensive planning that include all stakeholders input. I should have allowed at least six months to a year to plan the reunion. Planning task should include researching a destination, booking accommodations, collecting and managing fund, keeping the group informed and planning activities.  A planning committee should have been in place to split the duties. We needed to survey the whole family to help make a few basic decisions, such as how far is everyone willing to ravel, and how much will they be able to spend. Overall, what I would do differently is plan and delegate responsibilities.

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5 Responses to Analyzing Scope Creep

  1. Elaina Jones says:

    I enjoyed reading your example. I have always found it frustrating to plan family events. I am the “just tell me when, where, and what to bring” person in the family. I try to avoid planning at all cost. You said something that really stood out as far as trying to accommodate everyone. In my experience this is often impossible. Have you considered creating a strategy and incorporating a decision maker? Getting ideas and suggestions from all stakeholders is fine, but who makes the finally decision? I read an article a few years ago and it changed how I view project work evening in my personal life. The article is “Who Has the D?” https://hbr.org/2006/01/who-has-the-d-how-clear-decision-roles-enhance-organizational-performance

  2. My family experienced the same dilemma when planning our reunion. Everyone always have an opinion, but with our family it caused so much frustration we cancelled the reunion all together. In your case, planning 6 months to a year would have been great. Evening have a planning committee would have helped elevate some of the frustration you experienced. Most of the reasons for scope creep comes from not sticking to the plan.

  3. dlc420 says:

    Sometimes I think its difficult planning a play date for my daughter and her friends – I can’t imaging taking on coordinating a family event. Family makes it more difficult because they may feel they have more of a say in the planning than someone simply receiving an invitation to attend the event. I agree a longer planning period would help and asserting yourself as the event coordinator is good , but does that taint your reputation with some of the more dominant family members? A very good learning experience, hopefully your event will continue – maybe the coordinator can be a different family member each year…

  4. Krishna Patel says:

    Hi Lana,

    Planning and coordinating events remotely, and for guests that are also remote of each other, is definitely a challenge. It sounds like you managed to pull it off, despite that you had to take up the financial costs. A survey helps immensely when planning projects like these, as it eliminates a lot of the brainstorming and decision making you have to decipher over. This way, others can put in their suggestions during the week time frame you give them, that way you do not have to keep up with a large email or facebook message thread. I feel that we can make use of a lot of the project management tools that are used in our professional life, for our personal lives. I feel that we would all be a lot more less stressed and everybody could respect the planning phase. Kudos for keeping it together during your planning and implementation phases!

  5. Wow. Lana, this family reunion sounded like quite the undertaking. I agree with you that possible planning earlier and appointing committees might have helped reduce the stress that came with coordinating things for everyone. As I’ve been learning throughout the course, we often times undertake activities that could be better be dubbed as projects and should be handled as such.

    One possible way of getting stakeholders onboard is to provide them with a clear image of the pros and cons of undertaking certain things. In the case of your family, it would be good if you had not only given them the list of options and then the additional expenses that would accompany that. You could also have asked for input as it relates to any expenses that you might have left out. I think with the financing issue on the table, more persons would take the time to consider their personal budgets and what they can afford and then choose an option within those presented.

    My sister and I recently planned a family get together and it turned out quite well. As you pointed out, timing is everything so the earlier you plan the better it is and the easier it will be for you to deal with any challenges that might pop up before the big day. Thanks for sharing. I do hope you will have another go at coordinating the reunion now that you have learned more about project management. I would love to hear the success side of your story.

    Georgia

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