The Art of Project Management: Expert advice from experienced project managers in Silicon Valley, and around the world
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Project Management is a Myth

Project management is a myth: .period: end of story: can’t be done: so don’t even bother trying: .unless of course, you do it right from the very collaborationfirst meeting on the very first day. And on that first day, you had better do it right by PROJECT COLLABORATION and not by management. If you insist on management, then I hope that you enjoy your heat attack and / or your stroke. See you in your wheelchair and / or your hospital or hospice bed. Have a nice day!…and “best wishes”.

That project management may be a reality for you means that your reality really is that you live in denial, or utopia, or even a euphoria of your own design that a happy outcome will result from all of your blood, sweat, toil and tears. The last person on Earth to pull that one off was Sir Winston Churchill, prime minister of England during World War II but even he could not prevent the fire bombing and rocketing of London. Results simply cannot be managed: only process can be engaged. And how do we know this to be God’s honest truth and a Law of the Universe and, there-fore, a universal reality? Just look around at the entire project management industry that has grown up around promoting project management as a reality. But, it is a myth. Let me explain.

As I open up yesterday and today’s San Francisco Chronicle and the San Jose Mercury, I read time and time again that results simply cannot be managed. The State of California can no longer be managed or governed: it is Day 14 without a state budget, and without a state budget, the State has no spending authority. Without spending authority, the State cannot pay its bills or its vendors or its employees. I can see the headlines now: “SICK, OLD, INFIRM DUMPED IN THE STREETS

and “ALL PRISONERS FREED: NO FOOD TO FEED THEM AT FOLSOM”. On the Apple side of the street, Steve Jobs just cut loose his new iPhone 3-G and his employees sent his customers home to complete the activation process themselves because all of the phone calls destroyed AT&T phone service for hours. Project management anyone? Results anyone? Process anyone?

The SJMN headlines on Friday, July 11, screamed “NOT ENOUGH CREWS TO FIGHT FIRES” and so while the Gov (Arnold) is busy pestering 8th graders to pass Algebra 1, his state is burning to the ground. In Saturday morning’s SF Chronicle, the headlines scream “SENATE TACKLES MORTGAGE CRISIS“. Manageable results, anyone? Project management, anyone? Ha!

And on the corporate side, Yahoo! is struggling to stay alive while Microsoft is out buying chain saws for to carve it up. Remember, the ever-neighborly Jerry Yang and his buddies started it all 14 years ago in their Stanford dorm rooms and it was intended to be a friendly, neighborhood place where the nice people who worked there could have employment for life while they were busy creating things for the Web and for their loyalist e-mailers. But, someone in the boardroom was stupid enough to take Yahoo! public and sell shares of stock just so that they could have more money. Now, Steve Ballmer ( the post-Bill Gates personification of evil incarnate ) and Carl Icahn ( not an activist investor but still the same old greedy bastard corporate raider ) want to dump good old Jerry in the street with all of his come-back-for-one-year cubicle clutter because Evil Steve and Raiding Carl don’t want to pay the for any health care safety nets for the Yahoo! loyal employees that they will also dump into the street after Mr. Nice Guy Jerry hits the gutters first. Talk about Larry Ellison clones. My God: or should I say that everyone has graduated from the Attila The Hun Graduate School Of Management.

Now, let’s put the newspapers aside, because reading the newspapers is a recipe for having the heart attack and / or a stroke that you are trying to so-actively avoid yet attract by engaging in project management : except for one more article of interest. The kind folks of the Tassaharra Monastery decided to stay behind and fight the Big Sur Fire by forming committees for their project “manage-ment-by-collaboration” to get certain tasks done ( clearing brush, coating buildings with fire-retardant metal foils, digging trenches, etc ) and by “being in relationship” with the fire. How Zen of them. And their buildings came through the inferno mostly just fine. Ah, to be in relationship with a forest fire : only in California. What a state, but then again, Big Sur is more a “state of mind” and than “just a place on the map”

But there is good news that will keep your doctor away: more than just the project management project of eating an apple a day: yes, healthy living is a project management project too: and that good news is that if you have already read, or still need to read, Stephen Covey’s all-time great book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People“. Really, he should have written a companion book entitled “The Seven Habits of Highly Effect Project Managers” and, as the devout Mormon that he is from Salt Lake City, the # 1 habit for project managers would be, without doubt, and so obviously, “Pray.” This is not to deny the existence of God. God is personal for you if you wish God to be so, but the theory and hypothesis that “prayer can attract and / or enhance courage, leadership and intelligence” can also be tested by project managers if they wish it to be so. Even his son, Sean, has written his book of a lifetime, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers.” The # 1 habit here is to “Disconnect” and the # 2 habit is to “Read your textbooks“. Ha! The project management project of managing teenagers is like trying to teach math to a pig: it just frustrates the human and it pisses off the pig. Bacon, anyone? Now there is a successful project: farm to slaughterhouse to grocery store to frying pan to your table. Yes, project management does exist: but at what price to your wallet and to the environment? Did you see the pig waste in everyone’s home in Missouri during last month’s floods in the Mississippi River flood plain? P-U. Icky. And why do we allow building homes and pig farm in flood plains anyway? There must be something in the river water that makes people in the Midwest stupid. But at least they are not here in California. We have enough people and not enough freeway lanes anyway. Besides, as said earlier, California cannot be managed or governed.

So what is a project manager to do? Well, after morning, afternoon and evening prayers, project managers must carefully select only highly intelligent, very creative, totally imaginative and 100% sincere people for their project teams. The problem is that these people do not exist, and if they do, then they are married and they stay home ( to avoid the corporate world ) to manage the project of raising their children into teenagers, which, of course, cannot be done ( see above ). And God help you if you get “stuck” with the company idiot ( why are these people even on the payroll and who let them in the door in the first place? Ah, their hiring manager let them in the door, and their hiring manager is the poster boy or girl for the Peter Principal of rising to the level of his or her best incompetency ).

So, what is a project manager to do? Well, after studying the leadership styles of the Axis powers of World War II ( they lost in 1945 ) and the leadership styles of the Allies ( we won in 1945 ), and the leadership style of Attila The Hun, they may wish to study the leadership styles of 35th US President John F. Kennedy, and / or the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and now, at age 90 and still going strong, Nelson Mandela, of South Africa: hey, even train wreck diva Amy Winehouse sang for his birthday party, and if there is one person who has done everything right, from 27 years in solitary confinement to presidency of South Africa’s first democratically-elected government, it is Nelson Mandela — 90 candles, my man: you go Nelson! You are my living hero.

So do join me tomorrow for more about project collaboration management in the John, Martin and Nelson way and certainly not in the Steve Jobs or Arnold Schwarzenegger way.

David M. Katz
National Sales and Business Development Director
Young Einsteins Enterprises!
Sole maker and distributor of the Perfect Number Line and Graph Maker plastic piece tool.
davemathtutor@yahoo.com

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About the Author

Dave Katz is a refugee from the corporate world, and reincarnated as the most obnoxious math tutor that school districts have ever seen. His students and their parents love him! Dave has been put here on God's green Earth to help all of his students get A+'s in all of their classes. He currently serves two grammar schools, three middle schools and four high schools with back-of-classroom math tutoring, up to pre-calculus, before going from home to home from 4:00 pm to 1:00 am. Prior to his career in education, Dave honed his project management skills serving numerous government agencies and corporations executive administrative and office manager roles for a blizzard of district and regional managers and sales and marketing teams. As a Microsoft Office Suite wizard, Dave created the PowerPoint slide shows that won million dollar contracts. August 7th, 2007, is his debut on our blog on the topic of: "Project Management Made Really, Really, Really Easy -- Notes From The 2nd Grade Play-ground To Accelerate Your Project's Completion"
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