The Art of Scoping

In a production environment, scope and purpose are one. Effectivity is reached, efficiency is up to the highest achievable level, hopefully. Benefit and profit are tight connected.
In a development context, it is a little different. Effectivity is uncertain in parts and needs constant approval by reality. Benefit is gaining Certainty. Profit is not guaranteed automatically.
In a research context, most things are uncertain. Purpose is abstract, use is unclear or absent. Benefit is less Uncertainty, but profits need a lot more investments.

The longer people work on a context, the more Certainty is achieved – usually called “progress”

So, You need to make things certain to make progress visible.
The more Certainty is achieved, the more benefit will arise from this.
Troubles begin, were people from different environments build a shared context.

/preparing stage

To safe ground, not only productivity is needed. Progress is also crucial while the world faces constant change.

/ambidextrous organization

An organization which is able to deal with production as well as with innovation is called ambidextrous.
Most organizations fail in one or the other domain. This is one reason why they split up in units or even contract out the one or the other.


The immaterial area where to dig for Gold is called scope. This unknown territory often is approached by so called exploration.


The imagination of the future Status quo is also called vision.
How do I imagine the world with my product (device, service, whatsoever …)?


Goals are results to aim for. Often You cannot name by specific coordinates.
Instead ask Yourself and Your fellows ‘How do we notice whether we reached our destination?’


Once You made some experiences, You are able to describe and sharpen a specification.
Often, You need some basic experiences to name the specs.


The way ‘from > to’ is not certain, yet. There are some safety measures like milestones to determine position. But, nobody can tell whether You will be there in time, budget or with a sufficient result in advance. But, You can safe the journey by speed limits, basecamps and sufficient supply (ressources) for the route.


Once, You found out about the route, You got known to territory. You can lower rations, stipulate, dictate or limit to raise the level of efficiency.
A process differs from an approach by the level of knowledge available and the precision in “how”.

/So, what has scoping to do with all this?

Scoping sets direction of aiming. In bigger environments, it is crucial to have a precise scope statement to sharpen shape. Otherwise, neighboring units tend to delegate work to Yours. Your project will not solve it due to lacking responsibility, accessibility and at least amount of extra work, distracting Yours from core of Your project.

Scoping sets the whole, before anyone is able to declare completeness.
Scoping claims the territory where solutions are digged for.

Problems are:

  • If scope is too narrow, You may overlook or even cut relationships between components. The system is not working stable, because only parts of components are considered. Constant energy is needed to re-balance what should be stable from itself.
  • If scoope is too wide, traction gets lost. The haystack is too big. While searching, people forget what to look for.
    A long row of failures make them lose the image of what a success will look like. 42.
    Effort seems too high, probability to success is estimated too low.

/Chances to fail are higher

Scoping is the art of tighten and loosen outer limits of the territory You raise Your flag.

If You miss the vein, You lose Your investment.
If You limit too tight, You will lose Your people.
If You limit too wide, You lose shape.

Scoping lets the crew focus on finding Gold.
Scoping is Leadership. Drill is Management.

/whatif You will succeed?

Do You remember the last time You thought, “that chunk is too big?”

  • What, if You limit out the impossible?
  • What, if You limit out the illegal?
  • What, if You concentrate on the unbelievable?

/Success follows the investment in not doing

You need to do Your homework to identify the right places to invest energy on.

Many people do not carefully inspect, before they start. They want to see action and movement and early results. Others want to check boxes on their bucket lists without understanding what for.
In this very moment, random results split from success by approach. Context makes the method doing great.

On the other hand: without any action, other peoples actions will shape Your ground.
It’s the balance that makes the art.

/focus on promising land

Do You believe in the fairy tale of luck?

Impressive success is made from gaining and applying knowledge, repeatedly.
It is the continuity of progress in areas You can overlook and control.

You should not focus on the promises that will be broken.
Focus on the land which promises most success for an adventure.

Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and
underestimate what they can do in ten years.

– William Henry Gates III


You get access to whatever I estimate being worth to share on my twitter-channel.


  • Michael Ludatschka-Köhler
  • Warren Buffett
  • Microsoft as an organization
  • Zat Rana
  • Jürgen Baumgärtner
  • Tobias Leisgang



May all Your needs vanish into reality.
Live long and prosper.


Life runs in circles. Some are smaller, some are bigger.
In the end, there is no end – only another beginning.

Talk to whom it might concern. And share what matters to You!

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