Tonight’s Samson’s Dilemma…

From the Game Theory in Management Blog
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Modelling Business Decisions and their Consequences

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Delilah Rene is an American radio personality with an audience of an estimated eight million listeners.[i] Besides the music she chooses to play herself, she takes calls from people in relationships who seek to either communicate some feeling or thought for a distant significant other, or are looking for some sort of insight into their particular situation, leading Delilah to select an appropriate title and play it. Since Delilah’s eight million listeners are quite probably more numerous than the entire population of GTIM Nation, I should probably refrain from offering up any criticism. Still…

Here's my problem with Delilah’s show: when she’s merely passing along long-distance expressions of gratitude or affection, the segment is merely sweet. But, in those instances where she’s giving out advice, “Dear Abby” style, in the “Delilah’s Dilemma” segment, she does so in almost every instance without what I would consider a sufficiently in-depth knowledge of the particulars of the circumstances she’s advising. Besides the fact that she’s only hearing from one of the parties, which represents a classic ex parte situation, the callers I’ve heard on her show rarely have more than sixty seconds to lay out what’s going on. I don’t know about the rest of GTIM Nation, but I don’t think I could adequately describe my strategy for loading an automatic dishwasher inside of sixty seconds, much less inform an independent consultant of the particulars she would need to know in order to render anything resembling insights into a problematic personal relationship.

Meanwhile, Back In The Project Management World…

What would happen if there were a PM-themed equivalent of Delilah’s show, where overly distressed managers could call in, seeking to send a message to customers or co-workers, or receive some insight based on an extremely brief description of the problem, accompanied by a particular song selection? For the purposes of this parody, and to further establish that I’m presenting a farcical derivative of Delilah’s show, I’ll name my PM-guru host “Samson,” and I’m thinking it would go something like this:

Samson: Welcome to Wednesday night’s show, I hope you have all had a good first half of the week. Tonight I want you to relax, unwind, and be grateful for the Project Management opportunities that have come your way. We have on the line Kevin – Kevin, welcome to the program, what can I play for you tonight?

Kevin: Hi, Samson. I have a Baseline Change Proposal due to be evaluated by the Change Control Board tomorrow morning, and two of the members of that board are from my customer’s management team. I need this BCP to cover some stuff that these two board members added – informally, I would like to point out – to my scope, but I don’t think they will admit to committing scope creep. I think they want to present as if the cost overrun is due to poor performance. I just want to let them know that I’m on to their scheme, and they had better not put up a fuss on this review process. Can you help me communicate that?

Samson: Of course, Kevin. I’m sure you know that these relationships can be complex, and customers don’t just push additional scope requirements onto your baseline unless they think you’ll be compliant, and allow it to happen. It makes them look good to their superiors, after all, and if you ever appeared to be a pushover…

Kevin: No, I never did! They just…

Samson: Of course not, Kevin. But I do have just the song to send to Kevin’s two customers, who took advantage of his spinelessness.

(Plays “Money,” by Pink Floyd.)

Samson: I hope Kevin’s customers heard that selection, and will act accordingly at tomorrow’s BCCB, which is to say, should they recognize Kevin, they won’t seek frustrate him. Oooh, wouldn’t that be something if every single PM named “Kevin” who has a change proposal before a change control board tomorrow, were to fail to get approval, just because of this show? Next on the line is David. Hello, David. What’s on your mind tonight?

David: Well, first off, based on what happened to Kevin, I’m using an alias. “David” isn’t my real name.

Samson: Whatever makes you comfortable, “David.” What can I play for you tonight?

David: My customer is the ultimate nitpicker. He pours over every single Cost/Schedule Performance Report. The reporting level of the Work Breakdown Structure is set below the Work Package, and the Variance Thresholds are locked in at 5%. I can’t have a foreman call in sick without incurring a 5% variance at the WP level, for crying out loud. Can you pick a song for my customer, that leads him to take a more reasonable position on project reviews?

Samson: Sure I can, David. Your customer, if he’s listening, will be inspired, I’m sure. Using an alias may prove futile – “David” or no, how many major projects are out there that (a) have a reporting level below the Control Account, (b) have a Variance Analysis Threshold at 5%, and (c) has a role of “foreman” in the current task list? If this oppressive client of yours is listening, I’m sure he will recognize the project, and therefore yourself.

David: Hey, I didn’t call him those things! You did! I was just trying…

Samson: Of course not, David (snickers). But here’s the song I’ve selected just for you and your scrutinous customer. (Plays “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” by Tears for Fears. After the song finishes playing…)

Samson: I’m hearing from my producer that “David” is still on the line. Is that right?

David: Yeah, that’s right, and I just want to say that you never actually offered any advice, and, while your choice of song to play was pertinent, it didn’t help my situation at all.

Samson: Never underestimate the power of PM radio, David. At the very least, you could have served as a cautionary tale to others to never allow your customer to set the reporting level of the WBS below the Control Account level. Well, that will just about do it for tonight’s show. You’ve been listening to Samson.

(Finis)

 


[i] Wikipedia contributors. (2019, October 23). Delilah (radio host). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 01:08, November 3, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Delilah_(radio_host)&oldid=922667066

Posted on: November 05, 2019 09:48 PM | Permalink

Comments (4)

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Dear Michael
Very interesting this scenario, the characters and music created by you
I will say, very creative and with a great sense of humor
Thanks for sharing

Meanwhile, Back In The Project Management World…

In your perspective, is this communication in a project context?

Is this how decisions are made?

Nice!

And this is why "it depends" is the most honest answer to almost all project management questions asked in scenarios where we don't have time to get the underlying context.

Kiron

Very good point of view Michael, totally agree.

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