Project Management

Why Your Boss Won’t Kill His Pet Project

Tranquility. Lonely Pier towards Tahaa Island

People fall in love with what they work on, or so research by Michael Norton, Daniel Mochon and the ubiquitous Dan Ariely reports. They discovered that when people have to work to create something — like an IKEA bookshelf — they see it through rose-colored glasses. It’s not that you do what you love but that labor leads to loving what you do. It becomes part of your self-esteem.

The Powerful Are Lousy Planners

1958 Ford Edsel advertisement. You Know You've Arrived....

The University of Kent is reporting a forthcoming research article by social psychologists Mario Weick and Ana Guinote of University College London on how feeling powerful affects one’s estimates. The more people felt powerful, the more optimistic their completion dates were. And it’s not just a small effect: “power drastically reduced the accuracy of forecasts with error rates soaring up to…

Does Cost Determine Value?

Stack of golden George Washington dollar coins,. (c) 2007 Bill Koslosky, MD (CC BY 2.5)

Just because you got me to spend $65M on a project doesn’t mean that its value isn’t a tenth of that. Costs do not determine value but can determine the value of replacement.

Project Management vs. Getting Something Done

New York-to-Paris automobile race: [Automobile stuck in snow]

When Project Management goes sour, it does so because it becomes more about completing the items on the list rather than accomplishing the end goal. Software engineers have made this such a regular lament that you have to believe it has entered into folklore as a song cycle.

Requisite Organization Lens On Software Development vs Maintenance

Roadside stand near Birmingham Alabama (1936). FSA photograph by Walker Evans. Via Library of Congress collection.

Some time ago, Gordon had an interesting comment about a couple of posts (see “Getting Work Done at the Right Level” and “Ready, Fire, Aim”: Intuition, Analysis and Tacit vs. Explicit Knowledge). I wanted to finally get around to addressing some of his points.

I’m reading this just after reading your “Ready, Fire, Aim…” post, and just wondering “how do you tell what level certain tasks…

The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning… and project planning, too

Candle in stump holder. (c) J. Samuel Burner (CCA-2.0)

Mintzberg makes some scathing remarks about the Strategic Planning industry. A lot of it seems to come down that the planners are (A) taking the power away from managers and (B) it doesn’t work in practice. I’m wondering if a similar argument can’t be made about software project management.

Some Change Management articles

When I did the work for CSC, I boned up on these issues because I knew absolutely nothing. I actually read all of this so that I could put together a working change control process for the IT environment. Really. I could have simply made the guess without reading and would have produced the same process. But this was pretty fun.

Goodstein, Leonard D. and Howard E. Butz, Jr. (1998). “Customer…

Start with opinions

I hope that this citation is correct. I think this comes from Peter Drucker’s Effective Executive (1967):

Most books on decision making tell the reader: “First find the facts.” But executives who make effective decisions know that one does not start with facts. One starts wit…

Project Portfolios Require High-Level Capability

Mountains near Château-d'Oex. (c) E. Forrest Christian

In Waltzing With Bears, Lister and DeMarco describe the benefits of running IT projects within a portfolio. Not every one of them would have to succeed: you could take on several very high-risk (but high-payoff) projects and balance it with several low risk / low payoff projects. Having low-risk/high pay-off projects would be great, but most of the time those have already been done. You have a…

You Need All Levels of People For Success

The April 12 launch at Pad 39A of STS-1, just seconds past 7 a.m., carries astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen into an Earth orbital mission (STS-1. 1981). NASA

People who can see the whole complexity of the project “need to be paired with people that can deal with the details at other levels,” says Jack Vinson.


Looking back on what I have written, I haven’t made that entirely clear.

Everyone is important and necessary for the group to succeed. We need each other, each of us working at the level that challenges us, yet still within…

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