Sunday, February 09, 2020

Project ≠ Product ≠ Business ≠ Company

Project ≠ Product ≠ Business ≠ Company
Last few weeks I had a number of heated discussions around these terms. People get confused and make wrong decisions because of this.

This is my take on it.

A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result. It is temporary in that it has a defined beginning and end in time, and therefore defined scope and resources.

And a project is unique in that it is not a routine job, but a specific set of jobs designed to accomplish a singular goal. So a project team often includes people who don’t usually work together – sometimes from different organizations and across multiple geographies.

Where each project is unique, doing projects is something that is recurring. Most organizations spend a lot of time and money on projects.

That is why investing in project management capabilities gives you usually a high ROI.

A product is something that you can build and sell, directly or indirectly. It is the "thing" (though it can be a service) that you could make money from via a business. By itself, though, it won't make money.

Typically the first version of a new product or service is the result of a project. The second version is usually not.

A business is a set of people, processes, and tools that have been structured around a product or service to enable it to make money.

Ideally, a business is profitable, but it may not be.

Ideally, a business doesn't depend on any specific person being a part of it (including the founders), but it may rely on some exceptional people.

You can't run a business solely with projects. You need day-to-day operations.

A company is an organization of people that is designed to run one or more businesses successfully and to create new businesses to respond to opportunities in the marketplace.

This must be, ultimately, independent of any specific employee, since companies, unlike products and businesses, are (or should be) built to last for decades.

A business is worth much more than the product that it sells.

A company is worth much more than the business that keeps it alive.

This is one good rationale for why some startups (e.g. WeWork, Facebook, Twitter), operating in environments where it's easy to raise money, have bypassed the "build a business" step to go straight to building a company.

The danger with that is that if you don't first build a business, you might end up building a company that's incapable of building new businesses - and that's not worth a whole lot.

In a nutshell: Project ≠ Product ≠ Business ≠ Company
Posted on Sunday, February 09, 2020 by Henrico Dolfing