A story about some goal with the plan and a team is what we call a project.
After the project kicks off the team has to keep an intricate balance between adjusting the plan to meet the goal and adjusting the goal to the changing environment. This is the project management process.
For the person responsible for the project management process the act of managing a project usually looks like giving away lots of (mostly) gentle nudges to people, making summaries of every meeting and then sitting with a spreadsheet.
The spreadsheet is the most tedious yet most important part. When done just right it feels like magic. When you see the project story unfolding, then do the projections and then getting a glimpse of where how it will go in the future.
The spreadsheet mastery takes a long time to learn. But more importantly, is the difficulty of this spreadsheet-no-jutsu. If there are multiple ongoing projects then we have some kind of three-body problem of project management. I guess big companies become utterly inefficient for this very reason. Too many simultaneous ongoing processes, lots of rules to hold the company together, barely any opportunity for realistic projections.
Looking at this chaos and growing at the same time we decided to try to math our way out of this growing complexity by creating a specialized spreadsheet for the project management.
In the physics the three-body problem is unsolvable… if you need a perfect answer. But there are clever workarounds to get close enough.
The interesting thing is that devices performing a plan-check-adjust function (like cruise control circuits or gyroscopic stabilizers) use the math from Newtonian mechanics with the same approximations. Can we pull off the same trick with the math for the project management spreadsheets?