The hidden rules that help Project Management

In his book Why Does Software Cost So Much?, Tom DeMarco states that software organizations have clearly articulated and widely known rules to help manage projects better, such as :

Keep quality high
Leave time for unanticipated problems
Respond to user needs
Work hard
Keep promises

He says though, that organizations 'think' these rules are primary guides to their decision making. However he says there are Hidden Rules too :

False Precision Of Estimates : There are tolerances and buffers built into estimates at all levels but what is most ironic is that no one, and especially not 'management', will take a range of numbers for an answer ! Ever tried your boss with 'About 17 to 71 days' ? :)

Power Shifting : A reference to power play during corporate consolidation and its effects on the project and its success.

Anger: Ideally there should be no emotions as far as work is concerned but a large part of work is centered around interactions with other humans. And 'fear' is the most seen on display, mostly disguised as anger.

Fat: Another irony - 'managing people is not by itself enough to justify managers' salaries' ! Makes you wonder why the word 'management' entered the English dictionary. This unpleasant truth makes most managers go out of the way to 'add value' and leave people unmanaged. A fit case of 'Yeh Dil Maange More', no ?

Denial : What is expected is 'can-do management' and any expressed 'realism' is shouted down with a chorus of 'loser' and 'defeatist', as well orchestrated as the 'two legs good, four legs bad' refrain ! That leaves little room for 'risk management' says he. Cheerleaders are not restricted to football and cricket it seems.

This is just a summary and one must read the the book for more details - it has more such great insights and is a very useful read for the Project Manager. The work may be dated, but the content is relevant and your learning can be as fresh.



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