Your critical path contains only those steps that are essential for getting where you want to go. Each step is critical to achieving a particular goal.
Doing only the absolute essentials to reach your goal can be smart. You cut the time it takes to deliver and share your work sooner, which means you learn faster.
Doing only the essentials may sound like cutting corners, but it’s not. There may be different views on what it takes to reach a goal – and that’s something to discuss and clarify, to pin down the essence. Sometimes doing the essentials still takes years. And sometimes a complex project can be cut down to a day’s work by concentrating on the critical path.
The more people involved, the more chance that everyone has a different take on the critical path. And that means you could be doing work that’s not at all relevant for reaching that shared goal.
For instance, building a system for updating a new application or website is often seen as a crucial part of the initial project. But when you don’t even know if the app will be a success, you don’t yet need a CMS. And you certainly won’t need it right away.
Cross it off the list of essentials.
When it comes to your own projects, your idea of what’s essential may be a little fuzzy. After all, it’s influenced by your sense of what’s key to your own work. Then there’s the uncertainty that can be a source of extra work (so that you can postpone the confrontation just a little longer).
For a clear-eyed look at the essentials, try this: