Project Management

Projects As Conversations

Tobias Fors

[email protected] editorial board member, author and consultant David Schmaltz shares his thoughts on why it helps to inject some disappointment into a new project's brightest ideas ... why most predictions inevitably encounter paradoxes that change them ... and why plans should be expected, even encouraged, to deviate.

Ever since I entered the software business some years ago, I’ve been puzzled by what I’ve seen in projects, big and small. It seems that what we want projects to be and what they almost always are, are two very different things. A lot of people are bothered by this, and try to do something about it. That could be great, were it not for the fact that many of the things we do to improve projects only seem to make things worse. We attempt to go from chaotic to disciplined, only to realize that we’ve created a community of frustrated co-workers, eager to leave our companies in search for something less stressful. We try to use inspect-and-adapt methods, only to discover that people are not always prepared for what they find when inspection occurs.

Does it have to be this way? Of course not, says David Schmaltz in his book The Blind Men and the Elephant. We can learn to work together in more fruitful ways. He even has a few ideas about why it’s so easy for us to end up in conflict rather than with the results we desire.


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"The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up."

- Mark Twain