The Wile E. Coyote Guide To Project Management

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Ranting and raving about project management and systems engineering.

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I bet you didn't know it, but Wile E. was a project manager.

A specific breed of project manager.

So what lessons can we learn from our friend Wile E.? What made him so special?

Super Genius

You may remember, he preferred to use fantastic (and usually absurd) contraptions and elaborate plans to pursue his quarry.

His primary supplier was Acme Corporation, from which he procured complicated and usually ludicrous devices in the constant pursuit of success.

Two things usually happened with these devices upon implementation:

  • The devices fail in spectacular ways (Kablooie!)
  • The devices work, but operator error results in failure (Splat!)

But Why?

Why did our hero continuously end up smashed, blown up, or with a difference of opinion with gravity off a high ledge?

Like the time where Wile E. procured the Dehydrated Boulder, and then it became much larger than expected and crushed him?

Or the time he donned the Bat-Man outfit thinking it would make him fly, and it didn't live up to his expectations?

Teach Us, Mr. Coyote

So what do I mean, he wasn't a project manager, right?

No, not really. But he reminds me of many I know.

Wile E. Coyote relied on gadgets and tools, all of which either:

  • Didn't work
  • Worked too well
  • Didn't fit his needs
  • He didn't know how to use
  • Introduced unnecessary risks

So thank you Wile E. for being the Tim Allen for my own project management career. You've taught me:

  • Simpler is better
  • Do only what adds value
  • An ounce of execution is worth a pound of whiz-bang software
  • No single solution fits all needs
  • Risk management is freak'n important

So, what has Wile E. Coyote taught you? Leave a comment and let us know.

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Posted on: June 25, 2011 01:39 AM | Permalink

Comments (6)

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Other lessons learned from Wile E. Coyote:

- There's no safe way to operate an anvil near a cliff. Corollary: Everything falls faster than an anvil.

- You don't actually start to fall until you realize you've walked off the cliff.

- Innovation requires you to do things you don't really understand.

- It's safer to fly than it is to land. Corollary: Navigation matters, a lot.

- Hitting inanimate objects may make them want to get revenge. Corollary: Before you inspect the dynamite, remember to disconnect the wires.

- Failure does not respect confidence.

- Persistence is only admirable briefly. Before you can learn from your failures, you have to acknowledge them.

- The faster your target moves, the less chance you have of hitting it.

- Business cards are not particularly objective.

And from the Road Runner:

- Vegetarians don''t have to chase their food.

- A short, simple vocabulary communicates more effectively (beep, beep!).


Love it Dave! Thanks so much for the awesome comments!!

Josh, pmStudent.com

Dave, you are real funny! Thanks for the interesting 'lessons learned'.

For me Wile E. Coyote has taught me:

- you will never suceed if you are not learning from your mistakes.

- do more testing before launching.

- working in a team has a higher chance of success than being solo.

Love it, especially the "do more testing before launching!"

This article and Wile E. remind me of one of my favourite quotes (at least at the moment)...
"If you can''t be a good example, you will just have to be a horrible warning". Wile E. certainly serves as a horrible warning of all the things that can go wrong (and often will).

Other things he has taught me...
- The value of lessons learned (i.e. learn from previous challenges/mistakes)
- The problem with being fixated on a single goal (I am sure that there were other options; easier options)
- The disadvantages of going with the lowest bidder (surely there was a more qualified supplier than ACME!!)

On the other hand, Wile E. is to be admired for his persistance and creativity!

I liked Dave's lesson learned, "You don't actually start to fall until you realize you've walked off the cliff."

To expand on it just a bit, unless we PMs aren't constantly looking at what's going on around us, we may not realize that we're in trouble.

In a similar vain, Wile teaches not to fixate totally on a single target or disaster can strike. Something fighter pilots are familiar with as well.

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