Another tortured metaphor I invented yesterday…It’s just like the fire triangle they taught you when the fireman came to visit your fourth-grade class. And if you were in Boy Scouts, you got to hear it all over again. Heat, oxygen, fuel. If you have all three, you have a fire, but if you have two and are missing the one, then you don’t. In both cases, like-it-or-not.
To get anything built, you have to have the skills to build it, or at the very least the aptitude to learn and efficiently acquire them.
You need to have the hours to sink into completing the project milestones.
You have to know what the fuck you’re doing.
There is a lot of confusion about this, unfortunately most of it concentrated into the layers of management, and others who can make authoritative and influential decisions about where the resources go, about this third leg of the stool. In fact, a lot of this confusion is shared by their organizational opposites, the geeks with the candy wrappers on their desks and the McDonald’s-remnant stains on their shirts. It is not the skills. It is a separate, distinct and vital thing. This is why we have project managers. Although they, by themselves, don’t bring all of it. All they can deliver by themselves is the methodology, and some detail-work that hopefully meshes with reality. That stuff is just garbage if it doesn’t mesh with reality. In fact, if it meshes with reality most of the way, but mixes the good stuff with a little bit of fiction, then it’s worse than useless.
The third leg is the hardest one because it requires cooperation, across the board. That means recognition all the way up & down the organizational chart, that it’s needed. I’ve noticed that organizations proven to show talent and strength achieving their more mundane but challenging deliverables, quickly melt down into chaos trying to address this simple task, because they need to quickly and effectively “un-specialize.” People who have found their niche building, and found their niche managing, have to figure out how to talk to each other. Like a football athlete or ballerina presented with some new exercise, they discover muscles they didn’t know they had, but have never used.
Can’t find that classic old cartoon, all that’s available to me now is this cheesy new one:
Yeah, that about captures it.
Skills…time…know what the fuck you’re doing, and the last is the hardest. Project charter document, work breakdown structure, explicit requirements, implicit requirements, validation checklist. But, it’s more than those. A shared, or properly disseminated, understanding of the organizational deficiencies being addressed if the intended use is internal, and of the market demand if it’s external. Many methodologies have been developed on defining how to achieve this, perhaps literally tons of books published, hours invested into teaching & learning in classes, which perhaps can never be entirely counted. Without the buy-in, it’s all for nothing, and without the third point of the triangle, the “fireplace” stays cold.