Hiding in the chaos of projects

Don’t you wonder why product development projects are so insane? Chaotic? Consider this, a lot of team mates are thriving in the chaos, and aren’t about to change!
It’s based on our wonderful human nature to be “Not my fault.” We are so afraid to screw up, especially technical men, that we will do weird things to not be discovered “At fault”.
Our society is based on being “right” all the time, so we protect ourselves from fault. These protection themes/schemes appear in various forms: “Well, I’ll have to study the design again, shouldn’t take more than, say, 5 years, er, 5 days, yeah, that’s it, 5 days.” (Analysis paralysis.) Or “IF we can just get this feature in before the next revision, the customer will be really happy.” (Who cares about scope creep?) Or “We’ll have to get QA to review that protocol before we can modify it.” (That will slow ’em down, God, those project management turds are in such a hurry!). OR “You know, you can’t schedule creativity.” (Go away and leave me alone.)
We had a saying in development projects, “It’s time to shoot the engineeer”, because there always seemed to come a time when we had to stop the chaos, or as they called it, ‘free thinking to solve problems’.
These statements are based on a deeper, more personal human issue of accountability. “IF the design never gets finished, then it can’t fail.” Maybe it’s even deeper and more common than that, maybe it’s just the old ‘fear of failure’ thing, AGAIN!
Anyway, which ever it is, be a leader that hopes and prays for failures, so we can all learn something! Make it known that you expect failures, or development people aren’t doing their job!


1 thought on “Hiding in the chaos of projects”

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    I couldn’t agree more, Jim! I travel all over the world teaching workshops on leadership and project management. When I ask people what stops them from setting big, harry, audacious Goals (BHAGs) they universally say “Fear of Failure.” Well, if you aren’t allowed to fail you’d better be REALLY careful what you start! The result? Incrementalism, ambiguity, lack of real commitment and the resulting low standards. People enjoy the chaos because it assures that they can’t be held accountable. When the fires start to burn a little low, don’t worry, there’s usually a “gas can” manager somewhere to throw a little fuel on the fire and restore the chaos. And, woe is me, if the fires go out and things are running smoothly enough to tell who’s doing what and who’s late on their deliverables, don’t worry – – – firefighters carry matches!!

    My approach is . . . you gotta be willing to be bad at something before you are good at it, so get busy learning . . . hopefully assisted by learning from other people’s mistakes as well as your own. – Kimberly

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