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Plumbers And Electricians

Putting an expert in one technical domain “in charge” of a big risky project that requires deep expertise in a different technical domain is like putting plumbers in charge of a team of electricians on a massive skyscraper electrical job – or vice versa. Putting a generic PMI or MBA trained STSJ in charge of a complex, mixed-discipline engineering product development project is even worse. When they don’t know anything about WTF they’re managing, how can innocently ignorant project “leaders”:

  • Understand what needs to be done
  • Know what information artifacts need to be generated along the way for downstream project participants
  • Estimate and plan the work with reasonable accuracy
  • Correctly interpret ongoing status so that they have an idea where the project is located in terms of cost, schedule, and quality
  • Make effective mid-course corrections when things go awry and ambiguity reigns
  • See through any bullshit used to camouflage shoddy work or to cut corners,
  • Stop small but important problems from falling through the cracks and growing into ominously huge obstacles
  • Perform the “verify” part of “trust but verify”.

Well, they can’t – no matter how many impressive and glossy process templates are stored in the standard corpo database to guide them. Thus, these poor dudes spend most of their time spinning out massive, impressive excel spreadsheets and microsoft project schedules so fine grained that they’re obsolete before they’re showcased to the equally clueless suits upstairs. But hey, everything looks good on the surface for a long stretch of time. Uh, until the fit hits the shan.

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