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Bus Factor

Every project you undertake has an inherent amount of risk associated with it. As PMs, dealing and managing that risk is hard - though there are some risks that are outside of your control.

One such risk is the Bus Factor. Ironically termed as so, the Bus Factor basically asks - what if 1 or more critical team members are hit by a bus?

A teams Bus Factor is the minimum number of folks that can do the work of their comrades if such a situation arises. So, if you have a team of 5 data scientists, all equally capable of doing the work, you have a bus factor of 4.

Interestingly, in my experience, businesses tend to skim on the hiring of the execution staff and prioritize the hiring of management staff - hoping that they can come up with solutions for the bus factor or be thrown under the bus.

This also has parallels to the operation theory of constraints. Your entire supply chain is as fast as the slowest component of the chain. You can read more about it here. I recommend Goldratt as essential reading for anyone interested in Product Management - purely for the logical reasoning applied by the author.

Projects will fail if your bus factor is zero. The unknown eventually becomes the inevitable.

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