“The stupidity of project management”

Brendan and I are writing a book on Project Management. While we have plenty of experience in both large and small projects and have lots to contribute through a book, I wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to get input from the very intelligent readers of this blog.

So; what would you like to read in a book titled, “The stupidity of Project Management”?

127 thoughts on ““The stupidity of project management”

  1. I’m interested in some negative examples. There are not necessary specific names for not offending someone, but I’m sure both you and Brendan were blocked many times by your customers weird suggestions or requests. I repeat, it’s not about the person itself, it’s about the idea. Give some examples of failures in project management because a CEO or a company weren’t enough open-minded to apply what you and Brendan advised them.
    Sometimes, from the ashes of a failed project can arise a big success in the future.

      1. Another suggestion, Geir, the last one: I’m curious to read something about a comparison between past and present in this field.
        I mean, if you and Brendan feel the time passing and how time affected your work, let’s say, in the last decade: social media impact, computing Platforms, different approach techniques, new visions, etc. The most challenging thing is the title itself: “The stupidity of Project Management”. So, regarding my idea about decades, just and Brendan just have to follow your book title and to point some differences: why a Project Management type can be more stupid today than in the 90’s? Or the other way around…
        PS. Good luck to you and Brendan, please keep us updated on the book writing progress.

  2. And now, for Christ’s sake, don’t forget to speak 2 or 3 minutes in English when launching the book 🙂
    This time 3 minutes of English presentation may be a must.

    1. Btw, I was joking about recommending those charts and diagrams (as if I knew anything about them! lol). But the 3-minute youtube vid seems to give some good basic principles, the opposite of which would be “stupid project management” – or you might think the principles themselves are stupid! Either way, possible book material.

      1. I thought that video was strange but good input for us on what to mention in our book. The video mentioned that projects are about 80% planning. This is one of those comments that can be found in many books, articles and videos. I wonder, I wonder.

        thanks,
        bren

  3. The first thing I’d like to see is a complete absence of the word “resource” applied to people. Computers are resources, bandwidth is a resource, so is money. People are not. Mostly because you can’t interchange them and still get the same result as you can with objects.

    OK, rant over. But I’m serious – all failed projects I’ve seen up close and personal came down to someone who didn’t realize that people are people.

    Men and hours are not interchangeable; growing a baby takes 9 months regardless of how many women are assigned to the task.

    The technical people on the factory floor usually know what they are talking about, so when your expert tells you that the interactive mobile web app won’t work if it must get it’s backing data via an asynchonous message bus (JMS), then decision makers should listen closely.

    The biggest mistake of all though is usually not clearly stating up front what the project is actually FOR. This one can get so stupid that everyone thought someone else talked to the customer. Meanwhile, no-one did.

      1. They may not get involved in the excruciating details of it, but they are involved. They can smell from miles away if something is slipping from due date.

        1. Thanks Vinaire.

          About this sentence,
          “They can smell from miles away if something is slipping from due date.”

          I wonder 🙂

          I wonder if they bother with deadlines or due dates.
          I wonder if they smell and laugh or smell and panic and try to get back on track.

          So, as you wrote, they are masters of the subject. What subject exactly? Would sure be fun to have a meeting with Elon Musk 🙂

          brendan

          1. I think they have a burning passion to achieve their goals, and they do so come hell or high water.

            How that relates to the mechanics of Project Management would be interesting to find out.

            1. @vinaire

              I agree on that word “passion” 🙂

              Maybe an argument could be that too many projects have too many people without enough passion?

              brendan

            2. The whole idea of Project Management is to manage the project so that it is completed on time. It deals with nuts and bolts of resources and logistics.

              People like Elon Musk not only provide the vision, but they also make it happen. They manage resources and logistics on a large scale that provides constraints for numerous projects on a smaller scale.

              They work hard and find people who can get the job done.

          2. The Gates, Jobs and Musks of this world tend to be romanticized by others, almost granted OT powers 🙂 When I hear descriptions of Jobs building up Apple v2, I seriously wonder if people are describing a person, or a Titan. Or maybe a Bolivar-type construct.

            So I view with suspicion all anecdotes about how such company leaders must obviously be experts in project management because to me it is not at all obvious. They might well be experts in manipulating others, but I see no evidence that they are all experts in project management. If anything they probably stay as far away from the subject as possible and are much more likely to stick to a few simple things:
            “Just get it done, OK.”
            “Is it done yet?”
            “Why is is not done yet?”

  4. Trust the Geiru to come up with such a book title!! 🙂 And to top that, do an impromptu tease among his resident blogsters to expose any tripping stones in the way!

    Just one input from moi: — Above all other aspects — seek to achieve DUPLICATION (thus understanding) at the receiving end of the communications! (both ways)

    Much success with the venture, Geir! 🙂

  5. Excellent title for the book, love it!
    Would be great to read about epic fails of PMs(I always enjoy reading about someone else’s fails :)). Especially connected to the culture and values, not setting the real “purpose”, not being honest. Developers hate PMs usually, as they think managers are doing nothing except controlling/punishing them and all the real work is done by the development team. Why developers don’t see the manager’s value? May be because often there is not so much value? I think that is the biggest stupidity of project management. So many books, trainings and we still don’t know what to do with the projects.

  6. lol, about time someone exposed the cult of pm

    ridiculous terminology and methodology

    collaborative integrated apps like wikis, atlassian, github, slack, trello will replace pm

    they are below the api

    setting deadlines and orchestrating is best done by the workers who are familiar with the workplace or system because they live in it daily

  7. Maybe you will cover different attitudes of the project manager such as whether the PM considers himself part of the team and pulls (leads) or whether he considers the team a vehicle that must be driven (bossed).

    When the PM doesn’t consider himself part of the team then he may take the attitude that he must win even if at the expense of the team. When the PM does consider himself part of the team, then he demonstrates empathy with encouragement and becomes a resource rather than an adversary.

    I have been run, and I have run others in both ways. I feel it is more pleasant and productive to set up and be set up to win, rather than simply be used as a tool.

    1. Chris and Geir, speaking of different attitudes, have you heard of the personality test called an Enneagram? Apparently, it’s pretty accurate and is being used by companies of all sizes – including some very large ones like Sony, AT&T and Hewlett Packard. It’s all about how to maximize one’s (or others’) strengths and minimize the weaknesses of each of the 9 basic types – and how they interact with one another.

      Here’s a link where you can read a brief (or longer) description of each basic type, and take a free 10-minute test if you want. Very illuminating! https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/

      And here’s a video about it in relation to business. It’s a sales pitch, but the shortest youtube vid I could quickly find:

      1. Aha! Sounds enticing, Marildi! Btw, did you pick up on the Seth Effrican accent? 😉

        1. You mean over on the South African blog? I actually did notice that you folks speak a little differently – different choices of words and phrases than American English. And things like putting a question mark at the end of a sentence that isn’t a question? 😀

          1. South Africans are notoriously illiterate; plus less than 10% of the population is first-language English, and education standards are overall poor. Perhaps a significant factor is that most of the population are fluent in two or more languages, and there are 11 official languages in total.

            This leads to people often switching languages mid-sentence, often for no other reason than dramatic effect. A phenomenon that really sticks out is many people’s tendency to express a thought using a street language that is not their own – very very ripe pickings for stand-up comedians! Picture this, a very cosmopolitan society made up of hundreds of sub-cultures, races and languages; and everyone trying to communicate. If you are not “on the inside”, very little of it makes sense.

            Calvin does this a lot (to be frank, he does it to an extreme). I can usually figure out what he’s saying but I have to pronounce the words phonetically in my head first, and then I get the pattern. So I might spot something as being Kwazulu-Natal Indian, or Cape Coloured, or maybe even something that sounds suspiciously like Joey Rasdien on stage 🙂 And quite often I can’t figure it out at all.

            The question mark, well that’s probably a complete abuse of the question mark. It seems to have evolved from a real question mark into a symbol that introduces an invitation to take a statement further. It probably stems from this melting pot of cultures where the majority speaking English don’t actually know the formal rules of English.

            1. Hey?/!/#/*/+/-/ !! ‘Scuze me, oboet, ek weet niks nie! Ek sal net dom bly. (will that admission satisfy you, Alan?/!/# etc, etc.) Btw, I still think Barry (“Cousin”) Hilton rocks!
              “Capiche?” /!/# (…or <<< that further admission?/!/#…)

              — Okay, bulls-eye! You got me fair and square! Now live with it! 🙂 🙂 🙂

            2. A bit unclear for me what the heck South African tribes and languages have something to do with Geir’s question about his book.

            3. Nice dissertation, splog. Very interesting – at least what I understood of it!

              And what you said about the seemingly redundant question mark makes sense of it now. Thanks. 🙂

          2. Whiitttt??? Since whan is “…did yoooo…” nooo’ a quesstionn than ???

            Wiii’d yoooo preferrr th’ quesstionn marrrrk a’ th’ BEGINNN’N a’ the quesstionn tha’ yooo call “a sentence” me heaaarrrt???

            BTW, I used to be highly defensive about the speaking of correct ‘Queen’s English’. Those days are long gone. Having since sunken into total apathy, by being subjected to our new ‘masters’ insistence that practically all previous ‘English’ broadcasts be eradicated, in favor of the ‘new flavour’, version! I have now submitted to the fate so eloquently described by our resident English major, The Right, Honorable, Splog, Esq.

            ….. Sigh…

        2. Actually, Dragos, nothing at all! However, the video above (supplied by Marildi), is presented by Tim Marshall. My question to Marildi was simply enquiring as to whether she recognized the (his) South African accent! The bit of fun on my part, should never be taken ‘seriously’, bro!! 🙂

  8. Geir, time for a small contribution from me. I think the title of the book is quite clever, and I assume you already have some good ideas – however here is my contribution:

    1) When project management processes become the scope of the project………so your focus and deliverables as a PM is the process reports more than the project scope progress…..as long as you deliver your reports with green RAG status things are fine, and iif they turn red it is never the PMs fault…….

    2) When Risk Management becomes a process to include for PM process compliance only, and not to derisk your project or enhance the probability to deliver the project at time, schedule, quality……

    3) When the PM is not interessted in the project…….you´re there to “lead” a project based on generic pm experience and knowledge, with the attitude that you can lead any project regardless of scope.

    4) When a project is allowed to make estimations and planning a schedule without documenting how this is done. A pretty good start to fail a project.

    5) When work is planned (WBS) without proper knowledge – like the PM doing this himself due to time constraints – not using SMEs.

    6) When the project itself is documenting (deciding) the “business requirements” based on assumptions on what the project is required to deliver………

    There should be plenty of material to make such a book from…… 🙂

    kjetilV

    1. Picking a random reply to jump back into the discussion: what kjetil (and a few others above) describe sounds a lot like my favourite bugbear:

      PM can be very valuable, but it is prone to cargo-culting.

      I’ve worked with some amazing project managers who were crucial to getting the end result. I’ve also worked with some … idiots. The common thread with the idiots always seems to be going through the motions without first seeing if the motions actually help. This can get so bad that I’ve had PMs insist we must now do thing X for no other reason than that the process says we must. No-one in the room could see any reason why thing X would in any way be beneficial.

      That’s when I bring out my show-stopper: “You do realise that by definition a ‘process’ is always something defined by someone else to do something else required by someone else, who is not here?” (Yeah, I can be ornerry at times, and often like to take the contrary view)

      Sadly, I’ve found good PMs to be somewhat rare. All to often they make the mistakes Kjetil describes – they don’t feel part of the team, or don’t understand what the team actually does, so abstract it in some weird internal way and eventually resort to cargo culting.

      I’d appreciate it if you could highlight this in your book and give ways to avoid it

      1. Hey splog, your advice is as hard-hitting as it is direct, ol’ chap!

        I can think of at LEAST one ‘government’, that epitomizes the entire subject matter of Geir’s OP.

        Like — “… ummm… hehehe…. waahtchoo meen I don’t dyoooplikeyte… ehhh??” 🙂

            1. Great topic, btw. Sure to have a penetration into the watchful market niche, that may just surprise you! 🙂

      2. Love this: “You do realise that by definition a ‘process’ is always something defined by someone else to do something else required by someone else, who is not here?”

        bren

  9. Hmmm… I tried several times to write a reply to Calvin and none of them showed up, at least not on my screen.

    1. Ah so… osa? ….naaaah! Thanks for the thought, Marildi. To me, ‘big deals’ mean very little. Intentions, however, DO communicate to me, directly.. I genuinely have learned to no longer sweat the small stuff. IMHO, these normally spring from some sort of vexed communication. (fender bender to an ego, perhaps?)

      Damn! Don’t you find that life is an an (almost) unstoppable conveyor belt? And we’re ‘blueprinted’ to stay on it! And most times, we never quite know when we’re about to be bumped off it, either! Do we? 🙂

      This all boils down to a simple question, imo. Are we absolutely, utterly COMPELLED to take life ‘seriously’ ??? Or should we rather view life ‘insouciantly’ ??? I suppose the answer stems from which ‘camp’ we’re viewing, hey?

      Ironically, I believe this applies no less to Geir’s OP above!!

      That is to say, isn’t it true that ‘lightness’ of management (project, or otherwise), translates to an increased feeling of inclusiveness ?(teamwork), Does this not therefore obviate the classic ‘us and them’ relationship, that can so distort the view held by one side of the other? Thus effecting the end result (product)

      Finally, how MANY times to we have to ‘go back to the drawing board’, in order to discover that all we really wanted in the FIRST place, was … dooooplication!

      Silly, hey? 😉

      1. Calvin: “Finally, how MANY times do we have to ‘go back to the drawing board’, in order to discover that all we really wanted in the FIRST place, was … dooooplication!”

        Well said. And that makes me think again of the Enneagram personality test, because people do differ a good bit in their basic purposes and values. It’s a test that is considered to be quite accurate, and I’m sure that’s why many businesses have found it so useful.

        Actually, it’s useful for anybody. We each tend to assume that everyone thinks and feels like we do – or should! (lol) After I read just a brief, one-paragraph description of each basic type, I thought of a few people I know and felt I understood them better! Or, as you would say – dooplicated them. 🙂

        As for your question to me in another comment, about the South African accent (which I tried to reply to, but WordPress must have been having a bad day as my post didn’t “take”). First of all, I didn’t duplicate that you were talking about the guy on the Enneagram video! I hadn’t recognized his accent as South African, but I like that accent a lot – much better than some British accents, which I have to concentrate on too much to get what they’re saying. (Dragos, please excuse us for going a bit off topic. 😉 )

        Anyway, thanks for your other philosophical thoughts too.

        1. Oh and btw Marildi, you have gotten me aboard with the subject of Enneagrams!

          Will immerse into the subject at every available opportunity (few of those @ the moment, unfortunately!)

          Take care,

          –Calvin 🙂

  10. The stupidity of project management starts with the wrong selection of the program ops. The selection of very intelligent managers will produce measurable results at every case, especially if the manager is honest and familiar with the area to be handled. imo.

  11. Geir, interesting array of comments and suggestions so far, hey?

    If we bear in mind, the entire purpose of your OP, (gleaning some possibly useful inputs from your readers) then I reckon you’ve cracked it!

    Very astute exercise, my friend!…. yet more vistas upon vistas upon vist….!!! 🙂

  12. Please throw some more crazy ideas at us please:

    The stupidity of … planning
    The stupidity of … risk management
    The stupidity of … motivating
    The stupidity of … milestones
    The stupidity of … deadlines
    The stupidity of … goals
    The stupidity of … organising a project in stages
    The stupidity of … closing projects

    Inspiration:

    1. Hi Brendan! I have a question, please. I’ve read carefully your list and there is just one point I don’t agree, only one. It’s about motivating. How can be stupid the act of motivating someone in a project? Motivation is a startup of the brain, generally when you have a motivation in life you have all the chances to succeed. So where can be stupidity in motivating? Otherwise, that’s true 🙂

      1. Sorry, didn’t finish my last question. Otherwise, that’s true, all your list points are 100% reasonable.

      2. Hei Dragos

        I meant to enter it more as a question or provoke some ideas around it. Google the following sentence for more motivation on the subject “is it possible to motivate another person” …. that is only if you really want to do it 🙂

        However, i don’t want to go into semantics around the idea

        thanks,
        bren

        1. Of course, it’s nothing to do with semantics 🙂 The only stupidity I can imagine about motivating someone is that scenario in which you have all the good, professional or even human intentions to guide and motivate him (or her) in a correct way of action…and he (or her) simply don’t want to listen to you. That’s really stupid.

          1. Sure Dragos, in which the only acceptable response is not murder! (LOL)..But to just go… sigh……! 🙂

          2. Thanks for the answer Dragos72.

            When we had our several hour interview with the leader of the IRA last year one of the main topics we spoke about was motivation. Do IRA freedom fighters need motivation in their “jobs”? This was one of the real fun highlights from that conversation. He spoke about the volunteers intrinsic motivation and we mentioned our workshops in Norway offering extrinsic motivation where we sometimes try to get people to do things they don’t 100% really want to do. Maybe a good question is “Does extrinsic motivation reduce intrinsic motivation?”

            brendan

            1. Honestly I cannot see the “motivation” of a meeting between you and Geir, 2 of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met (even if it’s online in your case) and the IRA Commander in Chief.

            2. The level of intelligence of the IRA Commander in Chief might easily surprise you.

              And why shouldn’t Geir and Brandan talk to that person? He has a point of view, perhaps they want to hear him tell it. Politics might form no part in that whatsoever.

            3. It was just a curiosity, nothing else. IRA has not exactly a peaceful past, that was why I was surprised.

            4. Human reactions can be very misleading sometimes (most of the times?)

              For example, about 20km due south from my house is a house lived in until his recent death by a named terrorist. He was jailed for his crimes, and spent 26 years incarcerated, narrowly avoiding the death penalty. At the time this person was promoted in the media as an arch-criminal of note; in my younger days I was drafted into the military to fight this man, his supporters, and protect freedom, democracy and Italian virginity. Expressing any support for him or god forbid! actually talking to him would land me in the brig for a very long time indeed.

              That man was Nelson Mandela.

            5. Not the same situation. Mandela was an intellectual, a man who rejected any revenge impulse after 26 years of prison, a man who unified a divided nation and received a Nobel Prize. This is his legacy. Not the case with IRA. Their legacy…around 1800 innocent people killed. If they have a political legacy, this is not visible. Still, in collective mind IRA’s hands are blood spotted.

            6. I disagree; the two things are very comparable and when a group feels compelled to take up arms things get very murky very very quickly. For example, Magoo’s Bar.

              Things are not always what they seem, and the popular conception is unlikely to be close to accurate. You claim the IRA had something to do with 1800 deaths, OK let’s go with that.

              How many deaths did the English visit upon the Irish over the past few centuries?

              Or how about this. If everyone takes your point of view, and no-one speaks to the IRA, how exactly would it ever come about that the IRA feels their points have been addressed?

              Don’t be so quick to apply the terrorist label.

            7. Splog, everywhere some people disagree with present map of their homeland. Flanders want independence too, Alsace and Lorraine are still disputed by both France in Germany in local people mentality. Even in my country, in Romania, the most beautiful part, Transylvania, is still disputed and historically claimed by Hungary. But…nobody, in never circumstances, attacked innocent people.
              Why don’t you take the Norwegian example? It’s everything so nice and simple there. If you are a Bergen man and don’t like your Oslo neighbor, you can discuss and argue historical matters at a bar, in front of a cold, wonderful Ringnes beer. No guns, no blasts, no insults. Just talk and debate. I remember what a Norwegian teacher told me one day: “Dragos, it’s useless to hate our Danish or Swedish neighbors for what was in the past. Maps are changing continuously. Important of us, Norwegians, is to keep our tolerance alive and pass over to the future generations”.
              That was the moment I started to really respect this nation.
              So, finally, about IRA boys, the only way I can imagine them is just behind bars. As terrorists, of course 🙂

            8. @dragos “IRA has not exactly a peaceful past”

              What did you mean by this? Is your surprise that we meet with people that do not exactly have a peaceful past? I think I may have misunderstood, I hope.
              At the moment I’m writing this at a cafe where I have met several people with amazing stories about their survival under Saddam Hussein. They are not peaceful stories but definitely worth telling and sharing to make the world a better place.

              brendan

            9. There is just one point in which our opinions differ. Only one. I see IRA as terrorists, not freedom fighters.

            10. My point is that Mandela received a Nobel Prize as a proof of his transformation from a violence supporter to a peacemaker. IRA is still widely regarded as a terrorist group.

            11. That’s not quite correct

              Mandela AND de Klerk both received a Nobel together for their combined efforts. Neither did it alone, each required the other. Omitting de Klerk weakens your point considerably.

              But your argument is still largely nonsensical. Who are these persons who regard the IRA as a terrorist group? The media? Some politicians? Is there even a defined group who hold this view and that I should listen to?

              Labelling the IRA as a “terrorist group” comes across as very similar to scientologists talking about “the psychs” (or whatever the current enemy de jour happens to be) and contributes to the underlying problems standing less chance of being solved.

            12. It’s simple, Splog. Very simple. 1800 killings during couple of decades. Explosions, bombings, blasts all over London area. Innocent men, women, even babies killed in the name of an idea. I don’t comment the idea of a big Ireland, it’s their problem, but blasting a recicle bin in a metro station seem to be a terrorist act, don’t you think? PS. End of story with IRA, it’s off topic anyway.

            13. @dragos I read a lot of strong viewpoints from you here about IRA terrorist/freedom fighter and “IRA boys belong behind bars”…

              I read these points in a way too simplistic manner. I grew up just south of Belfast, lived there for 20 years and the whole conflict/situation was/is very complex. I definitely know I don’t fully understand it. I also know I never will fully understand it. You may be right but I don’t know.

              When I met the amazing actor Jason Beghe in LA last year I remember him saying something like, “Brendan, we are all a bunch of stories, some sad, some happy and some messed up. And we should share these stories with each other. This is life. So, Brendan, tell me some stories” (he added a few F words in a cool way that so it didn’t sound like swearing, but that’s a skill he has)

              So, back to my main point of this post. Both sides of any conflict have stories and possibly those stories should be told and listened to. That is why we met with the IRA. That is why I would meet with anybody that wants to share their story.

              Look forward to meeting you in person for a better chat or even better, visit Ireland with us some time?

              brendan

            14. First of all, Brendan, I don’t want to abuse of Geir’s hospitality on this blog, so it will be my last IRA comment, for the only reason that it’s off topic.
              So, Brendan, it makes sense what you say, it’s not your fault that even after so many years you didn’t understood exactly the whole clue. I also believe this was the real weakness of IRA during last decades: a lack of any kind of…”PR”. Even headed by clever people with strong, patriotic ideas, they failed in the “project management” of spreading the core of their political ideas in other parts of Europe, maybe except United KIngdom.
              In Europe, both West and East had their level of understanding IRA and its meaning of existence. You know, I was born in a communist country. During Cold War, IRA was presented by Eastern propaganda in a neutral way: no newspaper ever dare to pronounce ” a terrorist organization”, but also, TV and newspapers never issued that IRA is some kind of a National Front of Irish Liberation. Nothing like this. Bombings were always presented in a very dry and metallic manner: “The attack was claimed by the Irish Republican Army”.
              But in real life, ordinary people behind the Iron Curtain were always pro-British, first because we always suspected IRA to be logistically and financially sponsored by KGB, second, because our hope of freedom were related with Margaret Thatcher and her government, not with IRA and Irish cause.
              In Western Europe situation was even worst in my opinion. During 70’s and 80’s, IRA was perceived as a sister of ETA, Red Brigades or Baader-Meinhof Group. And that was because IRA leaders never penetrated the Western media wall, never succeed to promote (even their) version of Irish historical facts, their actions, their goals. Evening TV news were focused on TV materials in which IRA was sunk in its victims blood.
              Considering now, in 2015, I think IRA’s violence during decades was a strategic political mistake. Remember, Brendan, IRA’s political goal was ONE Ireland but the ideology was Irish Republicanism. In Eastern Europe, we always considered that Irish Nationalists were wrong when choosing IRA instead of a strong political platform to fight against British.
              And that was because in East we had our own freedom fight against communism and we knew exactly the impact and power of THE WORD.
              We never understood why IRA had to be an armed organization instead of a civil right movement or even better, a strong political platform. Brendan, you cannot imagine what a terrible weapon a WORD can be, if used in an organized way.
              Remember Gandhi in India….remember please Solidarity in Poland! With 10 million official members, even jailed, Lech Walesa was never attempted to organize an armed insurrection. He chose the political way and in couple of years communism in Poland was dead.
              Imagine a strong Irish debate in an open society connected to the free media of United Kingdom. Until now, using peaceful methods during decades, Ireland should have been definitely united.
              So, in conclusion, the IRA subject will be always open. All I hope, Brendan, is that the problem will be “solved” in our manner, by dialogue. By the power of the WORD.
              Wish you all the best 🙂 Respectfully yours, Dragos

    2. Oh, I get it! Traditional theories of organization are out – chaos theory is in. Brilliant! 🙂

      1. I think chaos theory is fascinating. For anyone who wants a quick summary of what it is, I found a short but very good youtube vid titled “The Science and Psychology of the Chaos Theory”. It can be applied to project management – or whatever.

        1. Yes, Bren, I have heard of Zappos. Probably from Geir on some blog post, or maybe even some video I watched somewhere. And it’s exactly the type of thing I would expect of you two. 🙂

          I read the article you posted the link to. Here’s something that reminded me of one or more of Geir’s published articles:

          “… Zappos’ traditional organizational structure is being replaced with Holacracy, a radical ‘self-governing’ operating system where there are no job titles and no managers. The term Holacracy is derived from the Greek word holon, which means a whole that’s part of a greater whole. Instead of a top-down hierarchy, there’s a flatter ‘holarchy’ that distributes power more evenly. The company will be made up of different circles—there will be around 400 circles at Zappos once the rollout is complete in December 2014—and employees can have any number of roles within those circles. This way, there’s no hiding under titles; radical transparency is the goal.”

          By coincidence, just recently I read about holons and holarchies in some of Ken Wilber’s writings. I’d say it’s the wave of the future! And unless, I’m mistaken, you guys are in the vanguard. 😉

  13. To borrow something from the Pythagorean Sourcebook: “a City is like a musical instrument.”

    That said, a COMPANY that runs projects is like a musical instrument. If the instrument is out of tune, playing a song perfectly according to the sheet music makes an awful result.

    Conversely, a perfectly tuned instrument played by a hack creates a bad result.

    Also, a perfectly tuned instrument played by a virtuoso in an environment of clashing sounds will create bad results.

    ***

    Some PEOPLE are like instruments. Some have habits like wooden flutes, with pitches and outcomes that never vary. Others are like violins that require constant maintenance.

    Drums cannot do a violin solo.

    Project management is in reality, more akin to music creation than people realize.

    What song are you trying to play?
    What does the song sound like and look like when it is correctly created?
    Are the right instruments tuned properly and is each instrument in the role for which it creates the appropriate contribution? Is the conductor competent and is the room clear of distractions?
    Is the RIGHT audience out there? Are classical fans listening to Jazz by accident?

    ****

    This is the essence of the stupid you speak of. Where winning is actually losing.

    Liberace perfectly playing a piano out of tune is a record that won’t sell.

    1. “What song are you trying to play?
      What does the song sound like and look like when it is correctly created?
      Are the right instruments tuned properly and is each instrument in the role for which it creates the appropriate contribution? Is the conductor competent and is the room clear of distractions?
      Is the RIGHT audience out there? Are classical fans listening to Jazz by accident?”

      Awesome analogy, KG. Seems like it covers all the basic elements, except perhaps for the fact that any one of those elements can change at any moment. I think this is where chaos theory is applicable – the idea being to maintain “spontaneity” (to sum it up in a word). But that’s a bit oversimplified. The above video, even though it’s short, explains it pretty well – especially the last half, starting at about 4:00.

      1. Okay, Marildi. I just love Constance Kaplan. (from 4.00)

        Immediately springing to mind are a bunch of the Ol’ man’s Axioms and much of his earlier works, which can be seen to actually encapsulate (formulate) this presentation by these scientists/psychologists. I shan’t “bore”, with the details, though.

        Sufficient perhaps, to highlight those teensy, weensy little elements, at the the core of all the ‘shit’ and ‘wonderful’ things that can/do happen during ‘the ride’ (on the blueprinted conveyor belt, perhaps? LOL )

        …….The ‘little elements’ ??

        — The viewpoint! (arrived at via TR-0)
        — PLUS randomity! ++++++++++++++++ (un-predicted motion) (chaos)
        — Duplication! (viewing entirely as-is,)

        plus one other little beaut, randomly assimilated, a while back:

        — Insouciance!

        Yep, we really do ‘have it in us’, to enjoy the ride! 🙂

      1. Thanks Racing and Marildi.

        I’m finishing a course this week on Stoicism. Basically, I took on the challenge to be a Stoic for just one month. It’s funny, a few months ago I took a “What Greek Philosophy are You?” test and it came back …

        “You are a Stoic.”

        So I took a course. And it was right.

        Yup. I’m a Stoic and almost all of its teachings align with what I have determined independently in my life before I ever took the course.

        Weird and lovely.

        Now … regarding THIS and project management. . .

        The “smart” part of “Stupid” Project Management is how one finds refuge in one’s own mind in the face of direct suck-ti-tude. Or how a team does so.

        If one or one’s team is like a Liberace playing a horribly out of tune piano in an under-performing orchestra, and IF the outcome of that performance is IMPORTANT, how do we thrive in such a futile environment of implementing excellent project management in a dead-beat firm?

        The Stoics are ALL about that.

        In Scientologese, I would call Stoicism the ultimate “Confront” philosophy. There are a LOT of parallels to Stoicism and Stoic meditation practices and the good parts of Scientology. The hardest thing to create in an organization is the ability for “truth telling” to occur sans ego and fear.

        Stoicism HAS a history of Amazing People. Marcus

        “Where are all the amazing people?” Well, here you go …

        Marcus Aurelius was considered the most human roman Ruler and Seneca was the right hand GOOD man to the EVIL Nero, essentially Seneca was the second in command. Seneca was the ultimate example of Liberace playing a sick piano. His death is … amazing, horrible and honorable at the same time. I can only hope to die so well.

        DM aint got shit on Nero. DM is a petty tyrant in comparison.

        STOIC EXAMPLE: SELF AUDITING:
        In Stoicism, one has a meditation practice of “Pre-Grieving” awful events or reliving awful events over and over in intimate detail in a meditative state to lessen their influence on the person’s life. One runs an event (historical or fabricated) until it has no effect anymore.

        Sound familiar?

        One is also expected to define one’s OWN values and use Stoic Practices to live them as one chooses. But in Stoicism one actually does it and doesn’t become a puppet for a particular philosopher.

        Bill Clinton said the most influential book in his life was “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius.

        So these ideas were not purveyed by average humans at all.

        The Stoics were also big fans of Pythagorean ideals and incorporated a lot of them into their body of work and practices. And the Pythagoreans were known to often ascend to positions of leadership.

        BOTTOM LINE: Project management is easy. Getting an organization strong enough to confront the whole and the parts and the people together toward higher virtue (quality)? Not so easy.

        The stupid of project management is an inability to deal with the soft issues of the human condition.

        1. KG, it’s no surprise that you were deemed a stoic personality, based on many of your posts – the hot yoga story for one! What’s the Greek philosophy that would be the opposite of stoic? That would be mine! 🙂

          Actually, it becomes clearer to me all the time that different people are attracted to different philosophies and paths – and do better on some of them than others. You wrote:

          “Yup. I’m a Stoic and almost all of its teachings align with what I have determined independently in my life before I ever took the course.”

          I don’t think I would ever have been attracted to a philosophy that focuses on all the worst things that could happen. My experience tells me that the focus should be on the positive. Actually, rather than experience, it may very well be that we were “born” with the worldviews we eventually “determine independently – meaning, recognize as being who we are.

          BUT I can still see how the stoic “worldview” and practice could be workable – and also how some people would become interested in it right off the bat. I think it’s also true that the many different paths all really do lead to “Rome”.

          Btw, I’ve read other comments likening Scientology to stoicism in certain ways. As you noted, one of them would have to be “confront” – which is drilled in TR-0. In fact, “The world begins with TR-0.” 😉

        2. Kat, you have done a great job in presenting the “stoic” approach to life, making it at least understandable, in terms of a rational confronting of the toughest life.

          Not surprising at all, is a comparison much closer to home: The billion year sea arrgh contract! Doubtlessly, the ultimate outcome COULD be /have been the same…
          — a selfless serving of a greater ‘purpose’, via an increased capacity to endure great hardship and suffering. (Of course, this does not negate other less glorious approaches)

          IMHO though, one’s sanity, however, between the two above approaches, prevails only while one follows the chosen path that remains SELF-determined!

          Have I said enough, bro?

          1. Got it Marildi and Racing. I would say I’m 75% stoic. It is my main root so to speak after I found out my notions were already a Philosophy school.

            Regarding Self-Determism, here is the Pythagoreans view it. They call Self-Determinism in Action as VIRTUE. It’s not like how we typically define it. It follows this formula.

            Virtue = Reason + Power + Deliberate Choice.

            This formula can work at ANY level of personal development. Our birthright is to be our best at any time based on our ability to reason, use power and deliberately choose.

            Free will isn’t as much a moment by moment thing as much as it is our ability to choose criteria and order our lives around our chosen criteria.

            1. Good expansion there, Kat. And looking at another most profound vision of just how one might embrace the fullness of life, have you ever read anything with greater compassion and wisdom, than Kahlil Gibran in “the Prophet’? 🙂

            2. You know Racing, I read that a LONG time ago when I was in High School. My mom loved it. I remember that I liked it. My wife’s mom loved it.

              And I cannot remember a thing about it other than he sounded kind, smooth and not fundamentalist.

              So, I guess I gotta read it again. . .

              ((ON BOOK LIST))

              The cool thing I like about the Pythagorean definition of virtue is that one can make a concept map out of it and make it actionable. It can be a triangle.

              EXAMPLE: I aim to be a better listener. I have the power to get others to help me listen better so I do that and drill that. I use my reason to understand listening and assess how skilled I am at it. And then I make a deliberate choice to listen to someone in the new ways I discovered and make the universe a little better by my spirit and intention.

              Virtue.

            3. KG, I get that you are on a truth search and keep finding things you resonate with, such as Pythagorean philosophy (which you’ve commented on numerous times over the years!), and now Stoicism. It was very interesting to me that the results of the test you took turned out to be the same philosophy you came up with on your own, which seems to indicate that there are basic personality types – and this is the claim for the Enneagramtoo. That got me thinking and on a Google search tonight I found this:

              “The Enneagram symbol has roots in antiquity and can be traced back at least as far as the works of Pythagoras.” https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/the-traditional-enneagram/

              How about that!

              The following quote might interest you too, as it seems to relate the enneagram to this subject of “virtue”, although the word used here is “integrity”:

              “Most enneagram teachers use the nine points on the enneagram to represent nine personality types that, according to enneagram teaching, apply to all people…Every person inevitably embodies one of these nine personality types as soon as they choose a basic mode of responding to the world at about the age of four.

              “Enneagram teachers claim that by use of the enneagram one can explain why people tend to act in particular ways and can prescribe goals for adjustment and development of one’s own personality. The first step is to determine one’s personality type from among the nine possibilities. Once one’s personality type is determined, they teach that one should strive to attain the characteristics of the personality type indicated by following the diagram in the prescribed manner…According to enneagram teaching, all people can learn to achieve greater personal balance and integrity by following the enneagram.” http://natcath.org/NCR_Online/documents/ennea2.htm
              .

              Here’s the link again where you can read a brief (or longer) description of each basic type, and take a free 10-minute test if you want (for that, just click on “menu” in the upper left corner of the page). https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/

              Btw, my semi-educated guess is that you are a type seven “Enthusiast”. 🙂

            4. Kat, you’re just about there! It’s “love”, that communicates, reverberates within us, if we let it in. If we just continue to look… and to listen…. we become whole again!

              …. We really, really do! 🙂

            5. There once was a young dog. It was a good dog. It was a kind dog.

              And then it was trained in a Military Canine Unit to be an attack dog. It still had love, but it was conditional upon the dog’s willing obedience to display ferocity on demand for its masters. It’s trainers had reshaped the dog’s natural love into a reward system.

              One day, in the heat of battle, the dog’s masters were gunned down and the dog ran off into the woods. Eventually, he stumbled upon a family. It took a long time for the dog to let go of the reward system and realize that love itself is not a reward. It is, in fact, more than that – it’s a purpose.

              It can be a reward, and it can be a choice, and it involves being vulnerable and tough enough to take bites one doesn’t deserve and not bite back.

              Sometimes he did good. Occasionally, he bit back.

              Some nights, the dog had dreams of the old battle days and would shake and whimper and be afraid. But when he woke up, he saw the family who fed him and loved him just for who he was.

              And then he was fine even though he missed the cage he went into every night. It allowed him certainty and security. But his new bed with his family members allowed him to go out his doggie door and look at the stars.

              One morning, after a disturbing dream, the dog woke up at 3:29 AM and walked outside. It was cool, partly cloudy and the moon shone behind a cloud. He sat down. And then he started panting happily.

              It just felt good.

              So he hiked his leg on his favorite bush, sniffed around and went back inside and got back in bed with his family.

              And then he went to sleep.

              Funny thing, he never felt like he arrived anywhere special.

            6. Marildi, thank you for your well thought out post. Lots of reading there for me.

              It seems to me that you and Racing are trying to help me progress spiritually in some way. Thank you for your willingness to help me and the genuine love you both have extended and the fount of knowledge you continue to post here.

              I feel both of your best selves, and I hope you feel mine.

              And the dog story is about me and my escape from the three cult systems. It may or may not be your story or anyone else’s story here.

              My Three Cults:

              1. A Family Cult When I was a Youth.
              2. Fundamentalist Christianity.
              3. A Martial Art that Was Cultish in its Socialization and Requirements for Advancement.

              But unlike the dog, I am quite aware of how special my life really is.

              Peace and love.

              KG

            7. Katageek: “Marildi, thank you for your well thought out post…It seems to me that you and Racing are trying to help me progress spiritually in some way…I feel both of your best selves, and I hope you feel mine.”

              I do! And I got that you really wanted to communicate your recent experiences and thoughts. That was why I wanted to reply with a post that was “well thought out”, to sort of give back something in return for you sharing yourself with us.

              And I don’t think I was as much trying to help you progress as just wanting to acknowledge your accomplishment. Loved the dog story and how it sort of exemplified your experience in the Three Cults. You alone could communicate, in your inimitable style, something deep with a story about a dog, with a meaningful part being the dog lifting its leg. 😀

              Actually, though, it occurs to me that you could write for the TV show “Family Guy”. Did you ever see the episode where the dog Brian and baby Stewie are accidentally locked inside a bank vault overnight? That was deep – and crudely funny at the same time. The episode even got written up in Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_%26_Stewie

              “But unlike the dog, I am quite aware of how special my life really is.”

              Nice. Peace and love back. ❤

              marildi

            8. Kat, you’re on a roll man! 🙂 Yes it really is a testament to our inherent capacity as immortal, indestructible beings, to literally create (or even uncreate!) anything under the sun….. that goes for ALL the dichotomies imaginable, too!

              Jeez, man, at the core of the game, (ANY game)…there..you (we).. are! Everything else is simply added on — via considerations. (and boy, how we just l-o-v-e to consider! 🙂 )

              And thanks for the dog story! lovely to hear how you feel.

              So here’s a little true life reminiscing for you too!

              I have long been in the gym game, primarily as a gym owner, personal trainer, diet counselor, etc. Like you, in the pursuit of martial arts, we at least share discipline in that we understand that to achieve mastery of our field, (mine – bodybuilding / powerlifting) we need dedication to our training, whether for ourselves, or for those we train.

              Over the course of the past 40 years, I have personally met and interacted with some of the strongest, most muscular beings on the planet.

              The most surprising thing about the very best among them, was the degree of philosophy / faith which each had, as part of their make up.

              And even more surprising, was the degree of unbridled LOVE, that radiated from within them, touching the hearts of all who took the trouble to get to know them.

              Tough guys? Oh yes!!! But with real heart!

              We’re blessed man!

          2. Racing, it’s interesting you brought up the soul and all that.

            The notion that the soul can be damaged and repaired.

            Lot’s of religions say that.

            Funny thing about the stoic Seneca. He called Philosophers “Physicians of the Soul.” A philosopher’s job is to heal the soul according to him.

            Interesting.

            Philosophy is in this sense not a “Brand” like Platonism. It’s a practice. It’s a decision to be one’s own philosopher and heal one’s own soul.

            And that means that NO system can ever be complete. Because each philosophy would be unique to each person. Other’s philosophies can guide us. They can inspire us. But they will never make us be our own philosophers.

            For that, one must ditch the crutches, throw away the books and cleave to only the perfect blank book. The book of the truth that is yours alone to pen.

            Marcus Aurelius’ book “Meditations” was written only for himself. Perhaps that is why millions have loved it so. It has no compromise. No audience to please other than that of his own soul.

            Enjoy your book my friend.

  14. Actually all, has it (by some chance) occurred to you personally, the extent to which we are irrevocably surrounded, (no, make that buried!) in ‘stupidity’ ???

    Sheesh! …. that is to say, it seems almost friggn’ endemic to our species, like some weird practical joke we’re insistent on playing on ourselves hey? Like the proverbial dog going around in circles, trying to catch it’s tail.

    — The ‘man-made’ problem / solution syndrome, becoming a cascading series of THE ‘solution’ becoming the next ‘problem’, in a never ending, repetitive chain of ensuing events, which appear ‘necessary’ for survival!! LOL!

    It’s what leads us to that ultimate problem / solution called ‘war’, for example. Phrase it anyway you like, on any scale you perceive, the inescapable conclusion is, that the more we refuse to ‘see’ the situation in it’s entirety (there are at LEAST two sides to any problem /situation, comprising conflict), the more we are likely to head down that path called ‘stupidity’!

    IMHO, the simple willingness to actually move into the shoes of the ‘other’ (shoeniverse) (willingness to duplicate), the further we move away from the above mentioned ‘stupidity’, and begin to align ourselves with the ACTUAL catalyst’s of survival that are inherently / intuitively within us all, as we speak!

    Being there…. perceiving.(duplicating) … communicating… we already have it all! 🙂

    Don’t we??

    1. “Being there…. perceiving (duplicating) … communicating… we already have it all!
      Don’t we??”

      Right you are – couldn’t get more basic. But don’t forget the other basics – knowledge, responsibility and control. I think those are elements Geir and Brendon are going to write about in their book, in terms of how they relate to project management.

      1. Absolutely, Marildi. The KRC/(and ARC) naturally factor in, as a matter of course.

        However, imho, the confronting of any and all elements, subjective and objective, can be primarily accomplished (and without much argument), via the exercise of first ‘getting in’ the basic starting points agreed to. It is therefore hardly surprising, that it oftentimes takes considerable persistence and effort, before one does indeed arrive at this much vaunted and necessary ‘starting point’, — before one may continue forward with certainty and may I say it — sanity? (absence of ‘stupidity! LOL. 🙂 )

        1. The more I think about it, Cal, the more I think your comment about “insouciance” was the best suggestion yet with respect to how I envision Geir and Bren’s minds to work. 😉

          1. Marildi, in keeping with the good acks flowing around this space, I just wanted to share another 2c. worth here. This concerns the lady in the house, none other than YOU, dearest!

            I have long marveled at your unparalleled capacity for voracious, energetic pursuit to ‘resolve’ issues and conundrums that have sometimes ‘lodged’ themselves into our midst!

            Whether a pages long bout of blog tennis with Vin, or a ding-dong with Geir, or Chris, I have yet to see you back down from such challenges. Definitely NOT one to zip the lip, or be intimidated into doing so either! 🙂 Dogged persistence is a hellav’n attribute to be blessed with, dear Marildi and you have it by the buckets full!

            Not just that, but the free-flowing love you share, can melt many a hardened heart too!
            (Seen you accomplish that on more than one occasion, btw! 🙂 ). Perhaps this is just another indicator of HOW we all actually do recover and revert to our primary beingness, when we abandon any and all forms of suppression and or ‘valenced’ behavior. We are then once again liberated, to experience and express our native ‘goodness’ without feelings of inhibition or shame for doing so.

            Of course, none of this sits well with our (ahem) ‘appetite’ for GAMES, now does it? 🙂

            So whaddaya think, me heart? Since I’m convinced that mebbe just a dash of our own unique brands of ‘insouciance’, does add the necessary ‘sauce’ to keep them games appetizing fun, no matter the topic, hey?

            And you? 🙂

            1. Calvin dearest yourself,

              What do I think? I think you are the one who is spreading love all the time – like now. Your post reminded me that I really do love the guys and gals who post here! How could I not after all the comm we’ve shared? 😉

              And you made me laugh too! Descriptions like “not one to zip the lip”, “dogged”, “voracious” – and “pages long bouts of blog tennis”, “ding-dong” (like the fight bell in a boxing match, lol).

              Then, as you often do, you gave it a nice philosophical touch with this:

              “Perhaps this is just another indicator of HOW we all actually do recover and revert to our primary beingness, when we abandon any and all forms of suppression and or ‘valenced’ behavior. We are then once again liberated, to experience and express our native ‘goodness’ without feelings of inhibition or shame for doing so.”

              You, Racing in the Blood (or “Ribby”, as 2ndxmr once affectionately called you) are another one-of-a-kind in this crew of DISCONTENTS and ZEALOTS (does that fit or what?! 😀 ).

              Thank you for being here, me heart. ❤
              .

              p.s. Here's a link we need to keep handy. 😉

            2. Hey there , me heart. Thank you for your generous response. But then, what SHOULD we expect from a bunch of guys and gals, who have it all within them? (yet we have to realize they remain remiss about it. 🙂 )

              It’s almost as though we have forgotten about that ‘greatest secret’ to healing, self fulfillment, and creativity, that can change our attitudes for the better:

              — We are each totally unique, special and possess infinite capacity to create, create and create! We should celebrate that. We can. We do, but not nearly enough, hey?

              🙂

  15. Off topic. It’s fun and interesting to read your site again. I had a glitch with computer and receiving notices which were hidden since March. So will catch up a bit ,and good to see the activity again. Missed you all.

    1. Dee, what a nice comment you wrote. I was wondering what happened to you. Good to see you again. 🙂

      1. Thanks Gier and Marildi, Nice to be back. I was only getting Rinders and Underground, plus saw friends on Face Book. I wondered too about you Marildi and now happy. I will keep up some at least, since I’m busy with slowly moving to another location. 🙂 😀

            1. Thanks, dahling… 🙂

              Well, if you’re going to lurk, I guess Geir will have to have to come out with a new blog post. 😉

            2. I got two brewing ; one about a unifying theory of validation and another summing up my coaching principles complete with mental training exercises. But as we are currently sailing in Greece, we’ll see the posts when we are them 😉

            3. “…we’ll see the posts when we are them”

              .I wonder – was that a typo or does it relate to one of those esoteric posts coming up? Hmmm…”Be the posts…” I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

              Meanwhile – happy “sails” to you. 🙂

            4. “We’ll see the posts when we are them. Be the posts, my friend.”

              It’s already trending. 😀

  16. Hi
    Glad to know you can learn something new here. I am ready with some negative examples in the stupidity of project management. Systems are resources, so is money. Mostly because you cannot interchange them & still get the same outcome as you can with products. I am waiting for your next post.

Have your say

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s