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Maybe I forgot the question marks...

Glen offers to set me up on a blind date with a real project manager I think because of this quotation I posted. Thanks Glen, but that was not my slam, it was a slam by the perl script kiddie. It might not seem like it from this blog, but I'm actually a bit familiar with what is needed to manage multi-zillion dollar projects. It seems to me that when solid things are involved such as airports, hospitals, bridges and rockets are concerned people are much more serious about planning. Some of this is due to having tangible measurable progress and where it is almost immediately obvious when it is not being done or is being done wrong. The other major factor is that to do this work contracts need to be written and thus scope is by necessity defined and measurement and payment are specified.

When the results are less tangible (perhaps in something like internal software development) and there is no real payment or non-payment for performance or the lack of, then you end up with these sorts of dysfunctional situtations. Indeed, I have seen this happen where it is in managers best interest to create a fictional schedule as the consequences for not doing so are severe (ie: their team may get liquidated or put on an unappetizing job) and the consequences for failing to perform to schedule are minimal.

The key is to set the rewards structure so that it drives the behavior that you desire. I also think that it is very important to note that rewards are not always financial.


Comments (1)


I think the internal or external, tangible or intangible is not much difference. It's lack or presence of tangible measures of progress and the reward (award fee) attached to that progress.

This is the basis of the IMP/IMS approach that has proven success in large procurements and is now being used in IT projects (ERP mostly). If applied to those nasty internal development projects, the Events, Accomplishments and Criteria can be the measure of progress (increasing maturity) that is missing.

Fictional scheudules are then much more difficult to produce. Since the answer to the question "what have you done toward a significant accomplishment?" now has to be answered in tangible verifiable evidence of accomplsihments and the exit criteria for verifying those accomplsihments.

The other outcome is the assessment of increasing maturity of the efforts. It fits well with incremental and iterative development so loved by agilist. But for "normal" projects the increase assessment of maturity puts a spot light on "what does done look like," and "are we making progress toward done?"

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