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Quit whining about the problem and move on… September 18, 2008

Posted by Darth Sidious in Business Management, Project Management.

You humans suffer from this disorder of pepetual complaining about the problem. Yes, projects, initiatives, or whatever do encounter hurdles and it’s part of the process to identify problems that come up.

Though what tends to happen is a constant restating of hte problem in various differnt forms, and this part is more of a psychological/emotional process of getting it out of your system.

  • Flip: “Had Jeff done more analysis, we wouldn’t have gone the AJAX route and instead used VaderSoft Silverlight for our RIA applciation.
  • Flop: “Ya, the application is dirt slow… it takes forever to do a search and pull up all the rebel bases where Jedi’s might be hanging out…”
  • Flip: “That’s the problem with AJAX… all that XML over the wire…”
  • Flop: “And Jeff, he can’t see two steps ahead…”

That can go on forever. Ok, Jeff didn’t do enough analysis, and the wrong technology was used. Problem identified, now it’s time to move on and start talking about solutions.



1. David - September 19, 2008

How about some pro-active management? If you wait until the end of process to chime in with problems, then a lot of people have been asleep at the switch for far too long. Large scale decisions should be made in a collaborative manner, with stakeholders signing off on key decisions.

There should be breakpoints in a project where progress is reported, and future direction is outlined. Speaking out early, and hard questions should be encouraged (emphasis on early), Monday Morning Quarterbacking should NOT.

Yes, I agree, that in an emergency, first comes the fix, and later comes the retribution, but there should be an emphasis on proactive approaches to project management. Worst case scenario, if things STILL go badly wrong, it won’t be just one person wearing the noose!



2. Darth Sidious - September 22, 2008

Good one! You’ll be spared electroctuion for today.

3. Paul Culmsee - September 28, 2008

Darth this is one post where I will risk electrocution and beg to differ.

I wrote about wicked problem theory and like the work of Jeff Conklin. The reason people have issues at the ‘problem’ layer is that social complexity makes it so (that and learning styles, personality types and the like).

You are a product of being the emperor. In the event of a wicked problem, you simply get to state your will and people have to comply. For the rest of us, it is rarely that simple.

I found this to be a great book and this first chapter is good.


As a result, I find that Conklins techniques for getting ‘shared understanding’ to be more fundamental that say, Agile or PMBOK that tries to solve the same problem at the process level. Acheive shared understanding, and the methodology really doesn’t matter.

4. Paul Culmsee - September 28, 2008

p.s I took light saber lessons from Mace Windu so should have little problem deflecting the inevitable electrocution coming my way…

5. Darth Sidious - September 29, 2008

Hey Paul, that’s good stuff – I personally like to practice sith problem theory. But the point is, whatever theory you follow, whatever problem solving techniques your organization has… Once you’ve defined the problem, although it feels good to emotionally beat up the problem – the next step is to execute on solving it.

And I’m not talking about some powerful manager laying down some directive, I’m talking any situation. Rebels took down the power supply of your latest Death Star, your UNIX server periodically runs out of inodes periodically for no apparent reason, customers get upset every time you release major versions of your software…

Ok, problem defined. The next steps shouldn’t be to dwell on various permutations of explaining how things came to be, but to focus on what’s going to solve the problem.

6. Paul Culmsee - October 1, 2008

Thats kind of my point. Projects fail usually not because of process (although that gets the blame), but a lack of shared understanding of the problem. Solving the right problem is actually not that bad 🙂

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