Thursday, July 8, 2010


The Deadline: A Novel About Project ManagementI read Tom DeMarco's 'The Deadline'. during x-mas holidays in 2006.  I am sharing a small excerpt from the book.

"We'll be doing GANNT Charts," Kalbfuss was saying, "and PERT charts, status reporting, a section on interfaces to the human resources department, conduct of weekly meetings, use of e-mail, filling out time cards, progress tracking, project milestone reporting, and - this is a new section that we're very excited about - setting up a quality program. Yes is that a question in the back ?" 

Mr Tompkins stood. "Yes. My name is Tompkins. My question is, Is that it ? Is that the whole agenda? "
"Yup, that's it," Kalbfuss answered confidently."
"That's your whole course on project management.?"
"Uh huh. Um. Do you feel something is missing?"
"Nothing important. Just the matter of people."
"Yes. We use people here to get projects done."
"Of course."
"I might have thought that you would have something about people in your course."
"Such as?"
"Well, hiring, for example. Hiring is only the most important thing a manager does."
"Probably is," Kalbfuss allowed. "We are not saying you shouldn't be doing that. We are not saying that it is not important to do it well either. And we are not saying..."
"Seems like you're not saying much of anything about it at all."
Kalbfuss looked down at this notes. 'Um. No, I guess not. Well, you see, hiring is one of those soft matters that's not too easy to teach."
"Not easy, only essential. I notice you also don't seem to have anything in your course about matching people to their work."
"No. That too is important. However,..."
"However, you won't be saying anything about it."
"Nothing either about keeping people motivated."
"No, Again, that's a soft subject."
"Nothing either about team building."
'Well , I will be saying how 'important' it is. How everybody should be thinking of himself, and here I might also say 'herself'... should think of himself or herself as a member of the team. We're all a team here, you know. Oh, yes. And i am going to stress how essential that is and how everybody should..."
"Yes, yes. But you won't say anything about how to build teams, how to keep them healthy, how to get them started, how to give them a chance of jelling, or any of that?"
"No. We'll be concentrating more on the hard science of management."
''You're going to teach us the hard science of management without even touching on people selection, task matching, motivation, or team formation - the four most essential ingredients of management?"
"Well, we're not going to talk about any of those. Does that bother you, Mr..."
"Tompkins. Yes, something bothers me."
"What bothers you?"
"That you've got a course that leaves those four things out and you want to call the course 'Project Management."
"Oh. So, it's just the title that bothers you. Well, what should we call it then?"
"How about 'Administrivia?"
There was a soft gasp in the room. Tompkins turned on his heel and walked out.
If you wonder why i recalled the above after more than three and half years, below is the reason.

Dated 27 Oct 1996 and i came across this today.

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