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Decomposition of the goals or how to eat the whole elephant

Each of us has faced tasks that, at first glance, seem daunting, but on closer examination, it turned out to be not so difficult. Let us take, for example, reading "The War and peace" or to learn the language. Many people give up such tasks at once, "Seriously, I can't do this". Others divide the major into parts, paying to the activity each day only 10-15 minutes (pages, words, themes, tasks..) and eventually after some time the main purpose is achieved. Such a breakdown of the main goal into smaller tasks is called decomposition.

When using the decomposition principle accurately follow these rules:

  • each allocation of a new task hits a new level. Graphically it looks like a hierarchical structure. If we imagine a job in the company, the Director creates goals for the level of his executives, and those in turn create tasks for a specific executive. The one level tasks require solutions on the principle of "And", for example, both the sales department and the buying one must cover their tasks to achieve a common goal; the transition to a new level is accompanied by a principle of "or", because the overall goal will be solved and it does not matter whether the head will do it by himself or give the task to subordinates.
  • the allocation of new tasks is always happening using one basis. It may be functional or structural features, types of stages and processes, knowledge spheres etc. So, if we, for example, divide the elephant into pieces on the first level with the head, torso and legs, on the second level we can't divide it on the white and gray, and have to share a trunk, ears and forehead.
  • each subtask in the sum should lead to the goal. If you take the same elephant, and divide it into parts, and, for example, throw away the trunk, and then putting everything together we will not get an elephant, it will be something else. The same thing is with the task – you should accomplish each task, otherwise goals could not be achieved.
  • the depth of decomposition is determined by its degree of readability. If you divide an elephant on head, trunk and tail, we will see that it is an elephant. If it is decomposed into molecules, it will still be an elephant, but we won't know it for sure.

This is the theory of decomposition, which seems complicated and abstruse. In fact, the division into component parts to achieve the main purpose is used everywhere: when managers address strategic and tactical tasks to subordinates, the designers create complex mechanisms, such as a car, or we plan any serious affairs in everyday life, such as a vacation travel.

You can make decomposition on paper, but it is also possible to take advantage of new technologies and to use task management app, for example, Taskmenizer, which is suitable for 2-3 level decomposition of the goal. It will look something like this: the goal is decomposed into the tasks of the first level, which are directed to the executors. Next, the executors put subtasks to a specific person with the relevant review or perform their task by themselves. When each subtask is completed, the head will receive a notification about the implementation and can decide whether the goal is achieved. If some of the chain links have not made its work, it will be obvious where and what is needed to fix. For decomposition personal purposes, you can use tasks and comments. If you see that all items written in the comments done, then you can surely put a mark on the task done.

That is how such a complex scientific theory gets a simple application in everyday life!