Andrew Ducker (andrewducker) wrote,
Andrew Ducker
andrewducker

My new favourite quote on project management

I'm perpetually fascinated by the various ways that large projects go wrong, particularly software ones. Largely in the hope that if someone ever says to me "Right, Andy, _you_ build a digital records system or NHS Scotland." I'll be able to do so without driving the whole country into bankruptcy.

And so I end up reading a variety of different articles on different ways of running projects, as well as a lot of pieces on how projects went wrong (there seem to be a lot more of those than articles on why projects went right). I just found my favourite quote in a long time:

“The waterfall method amounts to a pledge by all parties not to learn anything while doing the actual work.”

The complete quote is:
Like all organizational models, waterfall is mainly a theory of collaboration. By putting the most serious planning at the beginning, with subsequent work derived from the plan, the waterfall method amounts to a pledge by all parties not to learn anything while doing the actual work. Instead, waterfall insists that the participants will understand best how things should work before accumulating any real-world experience, and that planners will always know more than workers.


It's from this rather excellent article on why the US healthcare site was so badly implemented, and its major insight is about transparency - that the setup was such that nobody was admitting that failure was a possibility, which made it almost certain that failure was the only possibility. It's worth reading all the way through. And then forwarding on to anyone who manages projects, anywhere.



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