Who isn’t familiar with the game of Tetris?

The game that entered the world in the mid 1980th, and gained immense popularity with the introduction of GameBoy in the late 1980th, is a gaming challenge where variable-block-shaped pieces drop from the top of the screen while players attempt to move, rotate and position them so they fit perfectly into the rows below.

One of the fascinating aspects of this game is that a) the speed of the blocks increases as you move from one level to the next and b) if you make a mistake and position your shape incorrectly it becomes more difficult to position subsequent shapes properly as you have progressively less time to consider your options for the stream of shapes coming your way.

The analogy might seem a bit corny but doesn’t this sound a bit like the process of managing tasks in a project? In the earlier stages there is a good chance that managing each activity will be easier to do. Things are progressing fairly well in accordance to plans and although some manoeuvring, rotating and positioning are required, they are relatively manageable. Later on though, things seem to be coming your way at a faster rate. And as the speed increases so are the issues and the risks and the need to take corrective and mitigating actions which can, if not considered appropriately, result in a missed task. Similar to Tetris, missing a delivery is not the end of the world, provided you are able to re-group, regain your composure and reclaim lost territory by managing subsequent deliverables to their successful completion.

If however, you panic, and begin to miss out on subsequent deliverables, you end up, like in a Tetris game, with a mess, where you are no longer in a position to place your blocks properly and then the GAME IS OVER!

Think about it! 

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  12. Another analogy to the game of Tetris is that a project has lots of unexpected tasks (shapes) coming down the pipe, but the more experienced you are as a PM, the better you become at dealing with them.


    • Yes, Toby, quite right. Thinking about this a bit more holistically you could almost see how Tetris is a representation of life itself. Pondering the philosophical aspects of this game one can’t but appreciate the fact that it was invented in Russia by a Russian computer engineer. You would expect a Russian to invent something so profound and yet so enthralling as a Tetris game.


  13. Found this interesting blog post about the philosophy of Tetris:

    This quote resonates with my experiences as a PM: “if one is responsive to the natural structure of the game and plays it with a will to learn rather than overcome, Tetris can be a method of personal cultivation. It is a matter of finding one’s balance and then responding instantaneously to a number of stimuli, letting all affect the outcome for the better.”


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