Curse of the Project's Gold

I've worked for a few different companies, worked in pre-sales calling on lots of vendors and taught classes and did training with from teams from many different organizations.  This is my current list "curses" based on those experiences.  You can find lots of project warnings using a little google foo. Here are mine:

I worked a team where everyone got a box of gold treasure.

Knowing when it is better to leave the gold in the chest...

  1. No one is sure who the business owner is.
  2. The original "primary business problem" is not addressed by the project.
  3. The company believes it is immune to the three legged stool of "Cost", "Quality" and "Time".
  4. More bodies are added in order to make the project go faster in the current sprint. An egregious version of Brook's Law
  5. The project expands to justify the cost.  See Escalation of Commitment
  6. The CIO says that "they have never had a project come in late".
  7. Upper management announces the project and then appears to the staff, only talking to their direct reports..
  8. Executives believe the project can be completed on time (or at all) even though there is no empirical evidence. See Optimism Bias
  9. The project contains multiple subcontractors each with their own separate definitions of success.
  10. Explicit deliverables are planned out on a multiple year timeline.

Other signs

  1. The timeline for a new project is 1/2 the timeline of the previous project even though it includes greater complexity and new tools and platforms.
  2. It feels like management's bonus is tied to a quarterly reorganization.
  3. Management declares that automated testing should be done after the customer signs off so that there is less test rework.
  4. Chaos Monkey is used as a way to test the effectiveness of the on-call system.
  5. The team turns off Continuous Integration build notifications because they make the team look bad.
  6. Your agile team still turns in status reports.
  7. Outsourcing is done to "make failures cheaper"
  8. You hear the phrase "we can archive the code"
  9. You see your project code on
  10. Developers actually believe their code is self documenting.


Last updated 5/24/2015


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