Friday, 21 May 2010

Sleeping under a Hanky: Managing with Few Resources

We've been looking over performance on a couple of projects recently and I find discussion of issues surrounding how we managed our scant resources and tiny mistakes that caused big problems frustrating. I feel that nit-picking about how this little problem, that tiny delay, this mistake or that bug caused major problems is ignoring the elephant in the room:
We're trying to keep warm, sleeping under a hanky: We need to stop seeking the optimal position for the hanky and go get a blanket!
Now this probably sounds like a cop-out, but it certainly isn't. The blanket is something I'm always shouting for, but ultimately can't conjure up for us without some serious support. My point is simple:

While we're sleeping under the hanky, the risk of freezing to death is high. No amount of effort can hold back the inevitable tide of probability and prevent sheer bad luck from forcing some projects into failure or at least some seriously embarrassing shortcomings. Success tends to be down as much to good luck as good management (and I believe this of many of my own projects).

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