Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Liveblogging p&p summit, day 2, keynote

"Don't allow an unbelievable schedule to live."

Not just don't, but here's why not:

When people don't believe the schedule, it undercuts their belief in anything else you say.

When everybody "knows" you can't make the schedule, if you're not actively managing that, they'll start making their own decisions and judgments. If this is under the table, then they won't do it the way you (the manager) would want. E.g., if they "know" the ship date isn't realistic and no one is talking about that, maybe they'll speculate about how much it's going to slip, and start working to that assumption. If you (the manager) don't know what they're speculating and aren't giving realistic, believable input into that judgment, then you won't have any influence over that decision they're silently making about how to work. Yowch.

The usual solutions are to change the ship date or change the scope, to bring about a believable schedule. Both of which are the right things. I suppose there is another possibility, to convince people that the original scope & schedule should be believable, by providing lots of supporting facts and Gantt charts and suchlike. The problem here is that this is more like browbeating, most of the time. If your developers don't believe the schedule (assuming your developers are minimally competent and are at least somewhat able to explain their concerns rationally; if not, then you have a much bigger problem), chances are you should listen to them instead of trying to talk them out of it. As well, not listening to them makes all of the above outcomes worse.

"Working harder is a short-term solution." Death marches R bad, mmmkay?

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