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The 'fit for purpose' evaluation

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I saw a great presentation by Tom Peters, the American writer on business management practices. He produced a tiny shampoo bottle taken from a hotel bathroom and asked, rhetorically, ‘who was the average user of this bottle?’

Answer; most likely to be used by a middle-aged business traveller who wore reading glasses.

He then asked, ‘where was this likely to be used?’ Of course, when the traveller was taking a shower.

He paused for effect; ‘this product was most likely to be used by this guy in a shower without his reading glasses in a steamy environment with water running and when he wanted to decipher between the two almost identical bottles of shower gel and shampoo’.

A definition of ‘fit for purpose’ is ‘good enough to do the job it was designed to do’, but you could argue that the shampoo bottle, standing next to the shower gel bottle, is actually fit for purpose. The trouble is you need to distinguish it first for it truly to become ‘fit for purpose’.

In a project, all resources need to be fit for purpose for success. You need the right people with the right skills and actual project deliverables need to be ‘fit for purpose’ – the responsibility of the project manager.

The end result always needs to be considered in the context of the impact of utilising something or someone that is not ‘fit for purpose’.

Always be aware that such an approach can, in the end, make the deliverables so constrained that they fail the ‘fit for purpose’ evaluation.


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