Skip to content


ACCOUNTABILITY – The person who is accountable for a task has to make sure that it gets done right. Susan was accountable to Tim to deliver the music. However, Susan delegated the job of selecting the dance music to James, so James was responsible for selecting the music. However, Susan had to do quality control on the music to make sure it was a good selection.

Note: If you are assigned a task to work on, you are both responsible to do the task, and accountable for the results (i.e. doing a good job). You can delegate responsibility (i.e. assign the task to someone else, like a boss does), but you cannot delegate accountability.

ADVOCATE – An advocate (sometimes called a Champion) believes in what you are trying to do, and actively seeks to help you and your cause.

A successful advocate usually has influence with a group or groups of people, and can help you communicate a message to a wider audience, particularly when there may be initial resistance to your message. The advocate might be considered an expert in something, is usually a great communicator and may also be fun to hang around with.

The advocate uses their network of people to help communicate the message to lots of people, and get them engaged. Having advocates is a very important thing when you are trying to get people to change (i.e. Change Management) – in this case, change the minds of the other children to come to the dance, create decorations and bring food.

The opposite of an advocate is an antagonist.

ANTAGONIST – While an advocate is actively helping to promote something, an antagonist will be trying to stop it, prevent it from happening, or make things difficult for the people who are working on the project. Pimple Pete was clearly an antagonist in this story, and was trying to interfere with the dance and try to stop it from happening – unless he was allowed to run it.

BUDGET – The budget is what you plan to spend on your project. There may also be some income to consider, but mostly the budget is for planning what you need to spend money on to have a successful project. For the dance, the project kids had a lot of ideas for what they needed to buy to run the dance, but the money they wanted to spend was less than they were being allowed to spend by the principal. That is why they had to prioritize the list of things they wanted to buy – so the important stuff would be bought first, and so on through the list, until they ran out of money.

CHANGE MANAGEMENT – Convincing people to try new things, do things differently or simply change their minds about something takes a lot of effort. People don’t usually like change, but it is a part of everyday life. Change Management is a very important part of any project that involves people. In the Valentine’s Dance project, the kids begin to learn some aspects of change management as they work with stakeholders (all of the kids at the school) to try and convince them to attend the dance, create decorations and bring in baking.

CLOSEOUT Phase (Finish Up) – This is the end of the project, where we make sure that everything we wanted to do for the project is complete.

CONCURRENT Tasks – Tasks that need to happen at the same time.

CONTROL Phase (Lead, Check & Correct) – This is checking that we are still working to the plan, and making corrections if we start to wander off or get distracted by other things. It also includes working with people to make sure they have what they need to get their tasks done, and that people are getting along. The Project Manager spends a fair bit of time doing this.

CRITICAL PATH – This is the longest path in your sequence diagram, when you add up the estimated durations of each task.

CROWDSOURCING – Getting help from many people in small ways, to help you accomplish something big. It could be fundraising, or getting baking and decorations done for a dance. Crowdsourcing often involves a small token of appreciation being given to the giver (like a Hershey’s Kiss), and sometimes there are larger gift draws or prizes.

DELEGATION – This involves getting other people to help you get things done. On most projects, you can’t do it all yourself, so you need to assign (delegate) parts of the work to other people. Effective delegating is a good leadership skill, but you also need to make sure things get done properly, so delegate tasks to people you think will do a good job on that particular task. For example, most of the drawing on the projects was delegated to Alice, because she was good at it.

(Also see accountability and responsibility)

DELIVERABLE – This is something you are trying to achieve or build with your project – a completed piece of work. This may be small or big, but it is something you can see and measure. When you finish with a key task, the result will often be a deliverable. Examples of deliverables are: music, decorations, food, drinks, tickets, flyers, etc.

DEPENDENCY – When one activity (or task) cannot start until another one is finished, there is a dependency on the first task. In the diagram (A->B), B cannot start before A finished because B is dependent on A.

DURATION – This is how long a task takes to complete. If it has not started yet or is not finished, it is an estimated duration. If the task is finished, you know the actual duration – how long it really took to finish it.

ESTIMATED DURATION – How long you think it will take to finish something.

EXECUTION Phase (Do) – This is when the “real” work of the project begins, and most of the building/doing activity happens.

EXPENSE – Money you spend. The dance needed some money to be spent on decorations, and food and drinks that would be sold at the dance.

EXTRINISIC (EXTERNAL) MOTIVATION – This comes from external factors that may motivate you to behave in a particular way. External factors often include rewards, such as the promise of food, money, free time, special activities etc. External factors are visible to other people. External motivation factors can also be related to punishment – such as doing something to avoid getting into trouble. (i.e. “do this, or else I will tell on you!”)

External motivation factors often produce temporary results, and the person may go back to doing things their own way once they receive the ‘reward’. (See chapter 11 for a detailed discussion on motivation).

GANTT CHART – A way of showing the project plan with Tasks, Schedule, Resources and Dependencies on the page all at once. This is one of the most popular and useful ways of showing project activities displayed against time.

INCOME – Money you earn. The money COMEs IN to you. The school earned money from the ticket sales (before the dance) and the sales of food and drink (during the dance).

INFLUENCE – Influence is the ability to have an effect on other people, which may affect their behavior, how they think, and what they do. Quite often children (and some adults) will copy the behaviors and actions of influential role models, such as parents, rock stars, etc.

Note: There are positive and negative types of influence; negative would be to try and convince someone to do something bad or unhealthy (like stealing or smoking), while positive influences are generally good, teaching you to help other people, be honest, exercise regularly, etc.

INITIATION Phase (Idea/Think) – In the Initiation phase of the project, we have an idea about what we want to accomplish – what we want to do. (“Let’s build a tree house!”)

INTRINSIC (INTERNAL) MOTIVATION – This comes from internal factors that may motivate you to behave in a particular way. The internal factors are not visible to other people, but usually have you feeling good (a sense of satisfaction, or ‘warm fuzzies’) when you accomplish a goal or do a good job at something.

Intrinsic motivation is far more powerful and long-lasting than external motivation factors. (See chapter 11 for a detailed discussion on motivation).

LESSONS LEARNED SESSION – At the end of the project (and in the middle of long projects), the team meets to talk about what parts went well, which did not go so well and discuss ideas on how they might do things better next time.

MOTIVATION – The reason or reasons for acting in a particular way or doing certain things. The project kids had to figure out how to motivate the other kids in the school to want to go to the dance.

PLANNING Phase (Plan) – During the planning phase of the project, we figure out what needs to be done – in detail – and decide how we are going to do it. (“What do we need for the dance, and how will we do it?”)

PROJECT – A project is a temporary activity with a defined goal, a beginning and an end.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT – Project Management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.

PROJECT SPONSOR – This person is the one who wants the project to happen, and has given approval for the project to proceed. The sponsor usually sets out guidelines for the project, which may include the Budget, Scope and other factors. The project sponsor is a key decision-maker on your project. In the case of the Valentine’s Dance, this is the first project that the Project Kids have done for someone else, and the ultimate decisions were made by Ms. Moldiva (who could help with the project, what the budget was, where it would be held, increasing the budget for the shopping list when ticket sales were doing very well).

QUALITY CONTROL – This is an important part of every project, and helps to make sure that what you are delivering or building is done right, and is safe, etc. On the Tree House project, the parents did quality control checks during the safety inspection, and the kids checked each level to make sure it was safe before starting on the next level up. On the Valentine’s Dance project, Susan had to do quality control checking on the music selection.

REQUIREMENTS – What do we want to have as the results of our project? Some of the requirements for the science fair were provided by the teacher.

RESPONSIBILITY – Whoever is assigned a task is responsible for their part of the work. This may be a part of the project that they do on their own, or they may be doing it as part of a team. James was responsible for selecting the music, because Susan had delegated the task to him and he accepted it. However, the task was originally assigned to Susan by Tim, so she was accountable for making sure the music was delivered.

Note: If you are assigned a task to work on, you are both responsible to do the task, and accountable for the results (i.e. doing a good job). You can delegate responsibility (i.e assign the task to someone else, like a boss does), but you cannot delegate accountability.

RESOURCES – Materials, tools, people or money needed to complete the project. The Project Kids team has eight people, they used wood for the maze, they used tools to measure time, they had the tablet and the robot for the Science Fair project – these are all examples of resources.

RISK – Something that could happen on your project. It could be good, or bad, but it isn’t something that will definitely happen. It might happen, or it might not – which is why we generally assign a probability to each risk. This is usually something like “very likely to happen”, “likely to happen”, “might happen”, “probably won’t happen”, and “not very likely at all”. If something is definitely going to happen (100% sure), it is called an issue.

Risks also have an impact, or how good or bad things could be if the risk happens. If it is a negative (bad) risk, the impact could range from “really bad” to “not really that bad”. Note that a positive risk is also called an opportunity, which means something good might happen – this impact could range from “really good” to “a little bit good”.

RUMOR – A story that is being passed around that may not be true, or may be an outright lie. Rumors can be relatively harmless (I heard a rock star is in town!), or may be intended to be hurtful to other people. Don’t start rumors. If you don’t know if what you heard is really true, don’t pass it on!

SCOPE – This is “everything” you are trying to do with your project, which will contribute to building your Work Breakdown Structure. You can start with a high level scope statement like “build a tree house” or “build a haunted house” and then make it more detailed so it is clear to everyone what you are trying to accomplish with your project. For example “build a tree house with enough levels and platforms to hold eight people”, or “build a scary haunted house that fits in the garage, basement and back yard”.

SEQUENCE – The order in which something occurs compared to another thing. For example, A comes before B, B comes before C in the alphabet – that is a sequence. (A->B->C)

SKILL – Knowing how to do an activity, like climb a tree, tie knots, and so on.

STAKEHOLDER – Anyone who has an interest in, may be affected by, or benefit from the outcomes of your project is called a Stakeholder. Every child who could possibly come to the dance was a potential stakeholder, and the principal was a stakeholder because she was the Project Sponsor of the dance, and she wanted the dance to be a success.

TARGET DEADLINE – This is when you want a task or even the entire project to be complete. The kids need to have everything ready for the dance by a certain date.

TASK – An assignment or activity to get a specific part of the project completed – like making decorations, choosing the music, selling tickets, etc.

VARIABLES – These are “unknown” things we may need to plan for – like how many people will come to the dance, make decorations or bring baking. We often don’t know at the beginning what all of the variables may be, and they can change over time.

VISION – The “big picture idea” of what you are trying to do, whether it is building a tree house, designing an experiment, painting a picture or something else.

WORK BREAKDOWN STRUCTURE – A tree structure diagram, representing the work to be done (deliverables), breaking higher level items into smaller items (more detailed).