Analyzing Scope Creep


Project: Developing and Intervention Team

Let me begin this post by first making it very clear that I am not a professional project manager nor am I a professional instructional designer (yet).  In this post, I will be reflecting on a professional project that I was once involved with and, based on what I have learned, what changes I would have made as the project manager to better control the scope of the project.

Scenario: The administrative team of a high school I once worked for charged the entire team of sophomore level teachers to develop and intervention team. We were tasked with developing a plan to help at-risk sophomores become successful. With this charge, the team of sophomore teachers met and began brainstorming. Immediately, this team of 20+ teachers had dozens of ideas and was ready to put their plans into action. The problem was the range of ideas spanned from classroom-based interventions to mandatory lunch tutoring to small group books studies. So, the plan was to move forward with these ideas; somehow incorporating them all into one unified plan. The consensus was to have some common classroom rules that would be consistent across all sophomore classes then; the at-risk students would be required to attend lunch tutoring where they would participate in a small group book study.

What I would have done differently as the project manager: (Insert long sigh) I would first start with clarifying the goals/deliverables of the project by writing SMART goals. The task, as it was presented to the team, is not measurable. I would also get clarification of the descriptives used by the administrative team (the clients in this case).  For example, what is meant by “at-risk students” and what would be defined as “successful.”  In week one of my course learning videos, Troy Anchong in the video Practitioners Voices: Barriers to project success, explains the importance of clearly defining key terms of a goal. She discussed how ambiguous terms could mean different thing to different stakeholders (Laureate Education, n.d.).

Once the goals and deliverables are clearly defined, the team can focus on interventions that are conducive to producing the goals at hand. Where there were dozens of ideas, to begin with, we can now narrow them down based on empirical and research-based evidence of what works to achieve the needed results.  From here, the Statement of Work can be formulated, and that will guide the project forward. As new ideas are presented, we would have a framework to either extend the scope of the project to turn down ideas that do not fit within the scope of this project.  As the project was initially set up, there were no grounds for turning down ideas from the various teachers and to not “hurt people’s feelings” there was an attempt to incorporate all ideas that were presented.


Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (n.d.). Practitioner voices: Barriers to project success [Video file]. Retrieved from


Posted on August 6, 2016, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Natasha,
    Great post this week. SMART goals are a great way to tackle problems. We use them in a few of our courses and I really need to put them into practice more often. The minute I looked at your Blog I knew where you were going for this posting. Bravo – nice tie in with tools and a better anticipated outcome. The goals clearly would put some clarification to your situation and would lead you all to better outcomes.


  2. Natasha,

    I can definitely relate.;) I too have hosted a curriculum development meeting without specifying the goals and came up with similar results (a giant list of suggestions that may or may not support my admittedly vague instructional goals). Shown below is a link to a checklist for establishing student instructional objectives that may have helped in both of our situations.Great post!


  3. Natasha,

    I second Rebecca’s comments, great job. The graphic was definitely effective since you mentioned SMART in your post. I can relate a lot to the example you give. As a high school teacher I’m constantly getting pulled into scheme’s hatched by the administration to “help” students in danger of failing to be more “successful”. Usually, these initiatives feel like just a way for the administrators to look like they’re doing something by passing more work on to the teachers. In my school they have each teacher individually list all their students in danger of failing and what interventions they are using to help them. I think your suggests are good ones to employ if the administration does actually want to get something done.


  4. Natasha,
    You are on target with your evaluations! Your recommendations are great ideas! I might add writing a communication plan. This would allow for a written communication documentation that records the purpose along with key facts (Portny, et,al 2008). On a side note, your graphic was very appropriate and grabbed my attention without being distracting.

    Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


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Instructional Design learning

Thoughts of a Novice Instructional Designer

A record of my thoughts as I explore the field of instructional design.

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