Monday, March 1, 2010

Project Management - A Comedy of Errors

Project Management - A Comedy of Errors. By Prasanna Kumar.

This 125 page is quite a “quote” and “mini story” intensive one. The story line may appear weak for a book, but it is worthwhile effort to go thru it for it contains many insightful view points. If you are in IT field, you can relate it even better. This book is of “In the wonderland of Indian managers” genre. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Story outline in brief without ending:
Swaminathan (Sam) joins a Y2K Indian Software company, works very hard for about 5 years and gets an onsite assignment to USA. He meets his mysterious manager Bob who starts teaching all the way from Indian airport. He teaches him the seven habits of highly ineffective manager, types of bosses, courtship and belly dancing, baby sitting techniques (aka) people management, delivery pains, tricks after which he eventually attains “nirvana”. It is a full round trip: Trip to USA, bit of drama there and finally back here. The book is fully in dialogue mode which makes it even more an enjoyable read. The way author relates a story to IT scenario is really ingenious.

I will pick two stories and three quotes from this book – more than that, I would risk reproducing the entire book!
Chapter-9: Delivery Pains. Pharaoh, Priest and the Mason.
In ancient times, Egyptian priests loaded the Pharaoh’s mind an idea of building skyway to heaven (it is a promise) but what got delivered was a Pyramid which is nothing more than a tomb. Priest and Mason know that, once it is complete, they will not live another day. So, priest asks mason to build something that can never be completed, but they cannot fake the progress. Hence, when it reaches certain stage, additional changes in the form after life requirements keeps coming. Pharaoh will have no option but to fund further. Priest strengthens his portfolio and mason gets a life time employment. Now author concludes rather dramatically, “Any project that makes the team members job position irrelevant, in true spirit never gets completed”.

Now, some interesting excerpts or quotes from that book.
1. For every under estimation, there is an equal and opposite over estimation
2. Bugs once created cannot be destroyed. They can only be transferred from one module to another. (Deliver now and worry later)
3. Be content with what you have, but, be sure you have got plenty.

Kalahari Bushman Story: If unable to find water on their own, they apply salt on monkey’s tongue. The thirsty monkey runs to the water source. The bushman simply follow the monkey and the water.

I really liked the book since it explains serious stuff in a lighter vein.
Thanks for reading thus far.