7 Billion People in the World

According to the United Nations, we passed the 7 Billion person mark on Halloween morning, 2011.

A world of 7 billion poses many challenges: in fighting poverty and disease, in securing education and sustainable livelihoods and in mitigating climate change. But this milestone for humanity can also be seen as an opportunity to renew our commitment to work individually and together for a better world. – United Nations Day

So what now?

Are Project Managers Living A Lie?

[A Scary Halloween Article]

“I am going to describe my personal views about managing large software developments… In these assignments I have experienced different degrees of success with respect to arriving at an operational state, on-time, and within costs. I have become prejudiced by my experiences and I am going to relate some of these prejudices in this presentation.” – Dr. Winston Royce, 1970 Managing the Development of Large Software Systems

I had a fun 20 minute talk with a VP of Development and a Sr. Program Manager at a DoD facility during my time at AgileDC 2011 this year. The topic was around Project Managers managing projects in a way that is already poised for failure. Are they living a lie?

It has always been eye-opening to many people when I tell my workshop participants or clients that they old waterfall way of doing software was never intended to be used. It was a misinterpretation of Dr. Royce’s seminal paper. What happened was that government agencies read the first page, saw a diagram (with a poorly chosen caption), and said: “Hey, that’s how we do software development!”

Yes, that’s right. Waterfall project management was never the point. It was actually iterative development that Dr. Winston Royce was pointing to… later in his paper. 

How Not To Manage Large Software Projects:

If they had read the second page of Dr. Royce’s paper, they would have found the following quotes:

“I believe in this concept, but the implementation described above is risky and invites failure.”

“Yet if these phenomena fail to satisfy the various external constraints, then invariably a major redesign is required.”

“The required design changes are likely to be so disruptive that the software requirements upon which the design is based and which provides the rationale for everything are violated. Either the requirements must be modified, or a substantial change in the design is required. In effect the development process has returned to the origin and one can expect up to a 100-percent overrun in schedule and/or costs.”

Interestingly enough, Manoj Vadakkan spoke about Dr. Winston Royce’s findings this during his AgileDC talk as well, but he wasn’t harsh on Project Managers.

One quote during my conversation that almost flattened me was the following:

“You know, Project Managers should wake up and see that their entire existence is based on a lie. Their work, their management style, and their careers, are built upon a fallacy, a lie, and a management construct that should have never been put out there in the first place. It’s like a cult with millions of followers who, the more they learn about project management theory, are going deeper into failure for themselves and their company.” [Paraphrased by me]

So, what you’re saying is that Project Managers… and project management is like… a cult…


What do you think? I hardly had words.

Continue reading “Are Project Managers Living A Lie?”

Retrospective 56 – #CTO #Blog and #SEO #Giveaway


Developing Cultures of Complexity – CTOBlog.com

This year I have spoken at many conferences and the focus for me this year… and probably many years to come have been around the “Culture of IT.”

In many of my workshops I often ask my participants a simple question:

Raise your hand if you think software development in your business is easy?

Most often, not a single hand raises. I follow up with a second question and elicit some feedback from the group:

What are the biggest struggles or hurdles to success in building your products or software?

The majority of responses I get back are not technology-related. They are human-related: Soft-skills. Culture issues. People problems.

Technology Doesn’t Build Software, People Do

W. Edwards Deming, renowned systems thinker (whom I leverage a lot) noted that workers are responsible for 10 to 20 percent of the quality problems in a factory, and that theremaining 80 to 90 percent is under management’s control.

Workers are responsible for communicating to management the information they possess regarding the system. Deming’s approach to quality and productivity management requires an organization-wide cultural transformation.

Right. As I consult with C-Level executives, this is exactly the point that needs to be made. After that, it’s simply a matter of how to change culture within a business.

Curious? You should be. We’ll explore more of that in due time.

Kanban Applied to Scrum

I enjoyed this short and concise video on Kanban.

Kanban is a lean Agile methodology.

Kanban is a visual queue of work and helps with, as BTI360 states, the issues around unclear development steps, task switching, and partially done work.

  • Kanban helps with unclear development steps in that Kanban helps the team visualize flow of work and high level transparency to involved stakeholders.
  • Kanban helps with constant task switching in that Kanban helps by placing work-in-progress limits so that team members can focus on completion of work or value.
  • Kanban helps with partially done work in that Kanban helps by delivering fully complete work 100%.
Highly visible flow helps team address bottlenecks and on-demand improvement. Adjustments are made as they surface.