I just added a new post to my new blog Common Sense Management – Laws of Nature and the Need for Management. It touches upon one of my favorite metaphors – application of the Second Law of Thermodynamics to management and offshore outsourcing (see also Fundamental Laws of Outsourcing). The message common to these posts is quite simple – you must stay on a top of your projects, resources and engagements otherwise they would quickly deteriorate.
Having said that I have to admit I should pay more attention to what I preach and follow my own recommendations. Just a few days ago I was going through a small project that seemed to be falling behind. The issues became clear in a few minutes after I walked in the meeting discussing the project status.
The objectives for the project I stated about two months ago were lost and the void was filled in by something substantially more complex (And that illustrates another law – “nature abhors a vacuum”). My offshore team was happy to work on more challenging projects, estimates appeared too high, that required in-depth analysis, more people were getting involved, more issues discovered, that generated substantial amount of R&D that increased the complexity by an order of magnitude… Involved in the meeting there were six people from onsite and almost as many from offshore.
For me, at this point an unattached side observer, it was obvious that the efforts being extended to address the project exceeded the value of it by a great margin. It was not at all clear to people so passionately involved in resolving the problem.
About an hour later it was all over. The vicious circle was broken as the proverbial Gordian Knot. The projects objectives were not only restated but addressed. It required 15 minutes from an engineer who had not been even aware of the discussion. Yet the sunk cost of the project was unrecoverable, exceptionally high and not justifiable by any means. Is there anyone to blame for it except the manager (me) who abdicated the project to those who did not have enough technical depth to cut through the distractions of secondary objectives?