Awhile back I posted about Don't Do Stupid Things On Purpose (DDSTOP). This caused some comments about this being a very Theory-X management approach. The notion of Don't Do Stupid Things on Purpose comes from observinig people DSTOP with other peoples money.
Many might say, people have to experiment, try thing out, test the waters. Yes this is true, but who pays for that testing, trying, experimenting? Is there budget for that in the project plan? May be that this is actually an experimental project and the whole point of the project is to do stupid things on purpose to see what happens.
I wonder if the experimental work being paid for by the customer were worded like that if it would sound so clever?
Here's some clarity and a few examples of DSTOP in recent years.
- Install CA's Clarity (a very expensive project management and project accounting system).
- Apply Earned Value to a large ($250M) Enterprise IT project. Project gets in trouble, we come on board to perform triage and discover that the Program Management Office has been copying ACWP - the Actual Cost of Work Performed - to BCWP - the Budgeted Cost of Work Performed - the Earned Value - then reporting to senior management that everything is going fine.
- Instead of actually measuring physical percent complete to compute BCWP, they simplied copies the cost of the budgeted work, hiding the actual process
- That's DSTOP
- Install TTPro as a defect tracking and help desk ticketing system,
- Communicate verbally most of the defect repairs dome in development.
- Lose the traceability between the defect and the fix, so the QA staff can't trace the defects back to their rest coverage suite
- That's DSTOP
- Plan the development of several 100 million $ of flight avioncis upgrades for an aircraft that has been upgraded in the past.
- Build the Integrated Master Schedule around the past performance activities - good idea
- Resource load the IMS from past performance - good idea
- Discover that the cost and schedule don't fit inside the stated needs of the customer, so dial the work durations and assigned labor loads to fit the price to win for the RFP
- Get awarded the control, go over budget, and show up late after 12 months of work, get contract canceled
- That's DSTOP
So is it Theory X to ask those working on the project and managing the project to stop and think about what they are doing, what decisions are being made - and assess the impact of those decisions? Or should those entrusted with the customers money just go exploring, trying out ideas with the hope that something innovative will come out of it?
When we're assumed to be the stewards of other people's money, they should expect us to behave as those stewards. This means we make decision about the use of that time and treasure is ways that are informed by our experience, skills, and governance model. Doing otherwise means we're not the right people to be spending our customers money, or our customer has a lot of money to spend on us to become the right people they should have hired to spend their money.