Monday, May 3, 2010

Make Sense Out of Non-Sense

In I’ve Run Out of Time I introduced the statement offered by many a VP to explain why I should be the one to take up the burden.

The same statement is usually accompanied by a second statement “This is the most important project we have”, and you should anticipate the word “deadline” or “presentation” soon.

The two statements “I’ve Run Out of Time” and “This is the most important project we have” represent a logical conflict.

If this really IS your most important project, how come you are not assigning priority time to it? What is it you are doing that is 2nd- or 3rd-rate in importance instead of getting this life-or-death project off the ground.

Pairing up client statements and examining them for inconsistencies is a useful tool.

These two statements tell me either that my client is lying, or else they are illogical.

Either way trouble lies.

The explanation is most likely that they haven’t run out of time; they are really out-of-their-depth, but as a senior VP they are not allowed to admit that.

I do not ask the client “So are you lying or just plain stupid?”; instead I quietly acknowledge the inconsistency and look for the truth.

If the truth is, as usual, that they are out of their depth, then I know that the project will by now be patched with duct tape and baling wire, there will be deadwood to remove, and a fair amount of tidying up before progress is seen.

I may even have to drag a specification document out of the mess.

But it’s my job to take an insane state of affars and make it sane.

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