Project managers work hard all day in their projects and usually do not have much time for fun. But, this does not mean that they are lack of humor. Below is a list of project management humor that I have curated from various sources and a couple of my own creations. Take a break. Have a good laugh!
Feel free to share yours and I will add on the list…
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” Leonardo da Vinci once said.
As we try to simplify things with models, metaphors and acronyms, we unknowingly add on a layer of abstraction to the whole matter. No doubt things look a lot simpler and neater on the surface, but as soon as you peel off the surface layer and take a peek at what is hidden underneath, you will realize that it is still a whole mess down there. I agree that a lot of sophisticated works are required to turn complexity into simplicity. We see these in daily life from mathematics and engineering to business management and marketing phrases. So why are we doing this? Apart from being simple, they are often sexy, catchy and easy to latch on. Some of the better ones, like the Five Forces, Black Swan and PMBOK, have even taken on a memetic life of its own.
In the project management domain, we too have a handful of good examples. For instance, the ‘chickens and pigs’ concept that Ken Schwaber introduced for the daily stand-up is so widely accepted that it is now being borrowed and adapted as analogies in other fields. Why? This is because the concept of pigs>bacon>committed versus chickens>eggs>involved is so comme il faut that the metaphors link up naturally in the mind. It just clicks and sticks.
What about its cousin – the RACI matrix? Well, it does have its own supporters. It is also an acronym-based matrix. The only difference is it has not enjoyed the same popularity as the ‘chickens and pigs’. In fact, quite a lot of people find it confusing. I am quite sure there are many project managers out there who are still not very sure how to fill up the matrix correctly. I have actually met a few.
Wait a second. Isn’t RACI matrix a well-defined matrix? So why is it so confusing and difficult to understand? It seems like people are having a tough time figuring out the differences among the four key responsibility roles, especially between the ‘accountable’ and ‘responsible’ roles. Is it because of the definitions of the roles are not clear enough? Definitely not! What could be the reason(s) then?
If you are observant enough, by now you should have spotted another major difference between the ‘chickens and pigs’ concept and RACI matrix. The ‘chickens’ and the ‘pigs’ are far more lifelike than the dully represented ‘R’, ‘A’, ‘C’ and ‘I’. There is nothing wrong with the definitions. People just find it difficult to relate the theories with practical applications. Yes, RACI needs a story and some metaphors for people to connect it with real life examples. This is exactly what is missing. Without further ado, I hereby present you a comic for RACI – “Gang of Four at Tea Party”. Hope you like it.
According to the recent Dice Report, nearly 900 hiring managers and recruiters that source, recruit and hire IT professionals, 65% anticipate an increase in hiring in the second half of 2011 compares to the preceding six months. However, respondents also indicate that the time to fill a position is lengthening, and 63% of them attribute talent shortages as the primary reason which compares to just 46% who felt that way six months ago. Where have all the talents gone?
Before we proceed to discuss the above question, let’s take a step back and reexamine the hiring process. When you need to hire someone for your project team, what do you usually do? Most of you will probably contact your Human Resource department and they will request a detailed Job Description (JD) from you for the new position to be hired. Without further ado, you will enthusiastically send out a 3-inches thick JD to your HR just to justify the importance of the role and to ensure that your HR is able to get you the right person for the job. In fact, this is exactly what the HR will do – find the perfect match. They will scrutinize the pile of submitted applications and drop those that do not match the criteria highlighted in your JD (I suspect they might even have a super-duper software to do that automatically). What you will be choosing from eventually are those ‘lucky ones’ that slipped through your HR’s most stringent filtering system. Good luck, if the above process sounds familiar to you. What’s wrong with this?
No, there is nothing wrong with the process; the problem lies in the screening and filtering procedures performed by your HR. Yet, do not blame your HR. They are not the experts in your domain. Hence, do not expect them to be able to differentiate between PMP vs. PgMP certification or know the significance of project management experience over domain knowledge. For example, if you are looking for a business analyst with 5 years of experience and strong investment banking knowledge; would you try someone with CBAP and 10 years of business analysis experience but no banking knowledge? Or what you need is a seasoned project manager with 10 years of experience; would you even consider a PMP certified junior project manager with 5 years of experience? Your HR will, without doubt, drop the two applicants from the above examples since they do not match the criteria in your JD. Now, isn’t this ironical? Dropping a PMP certified, and supposedly much younger and energetic, project manager just because he or she does not have the required years of working experience (assuming experience is not correlated to capability)?
What the HR are doing is typical apple-to-apple comparison to pick your champ based on what the candidate has done in the past and not on actual capabilities of what he or she could potentially contribute to your team in the future. In other words, they are selecting someone that is ‘ready-to-serve’ for the immediate needs in your team. However, are we going to rely solely on a person’s history and credentials to judge his or her potentials? While work experiences, academic achievements, domain knowledge and skill set can be easily presented and identified in a person’s resume, less quantifiable attributes like soft skills and personalities can only be validated appropriately through interviews and psychometric tests. Not to mention it is well known that resume can be easily cooked up and nicely spruced, and most of them are usually over-claimed. Should we still stick with this old way of headhunting? If you are going to continue to do so, there is a high chance that you might miss out potential talents through this kind of filtering procedures. The key question is – are you looking for someone who can fit nicely into the current role or a potential star player who may contribute beyond your expectation? If I were you, I will either do the screening myself or keep the JD as simple and short as possible. Ultimately, what I want for my team is a creative individual, a thinker and a future leader, and not someone who just wait for instructions. What about you?