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This Focused Performance Weblog started life as a "business management blog" containing links and commentary related primarily to organizational effectiveness with a "Theory of Constraints" perspective, but is in the process of evolving towards primary content on interactive and mobile marketing. Think of it as about Focusing marketing messages for enhanced Performance. If you are on an archive page, current postings are found here.

Monday, March 31, 2003

Cutting Bait -- From Corante's Ideaflow, Renee Hopkins points to When Bad Ideas Won't Die by Isabelle Royer, describing a situation that I've run into more than once...
"Royer describes how "collective belief" can set in, as the project's champion spreads the success gospel throughout the organization until "faith blinds you to increasingly negative feedback from the lab, from vendors and partners, from customers," a phenomenon many in the tech world recognize as drinking the Koolaid.

"The dangers: Problems won't be seen as signs of failure, or even as issues that should be resolved before moving on to the next stage of development; misplaced enthusiasm can lead to an unrealistically tight development timetable; and lenient review procedures."
I've written in the past about the failure to face reality, but Hopkin's/Royer's message reminds me of the frustration of presenting a project plan to someone who agrees with all its components, can't argue with what it says, and then goes on and ignores the warnings of diminishing buffers, saying "but we can do it" or "we have to do it" or "we've promised it," and refuses to face reality, driving the project to a predictably disasterous conclusion.

I had seen references to the Royer article before, but today's encounter with it shortly followed a contact with a friend at an old client that was being "led" in such a direction. Our engagement with them at least forced them to take a serious look at the unrealistic expectations and revise the direction of the project. They also chose, inexplicably, to use a different mode of PM; one I suspect told them what they wanted to hear rather than paint a realistic picture. I asked how things were going, commenting on my expectation that they were in the throes of Release Three. But noooo...They didn't even make it to Release One, and killed the project...for the second time. (And to rub salt in the wound, I'm a customer of this company, and was recently advised that their prices would be going up 10% this year, after a 25% bump only two years ago!!!)

Kool-aid, anyone?

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