Thought for the coming week

When management’s operating basis is,"No Surprises", those of you who are handling the realities of day-to-day business are in for a rough go.

No matter how well you handle a crisis, you will be chastised for letting it intrude on the sacred ruminations of top management.

You should expect that projects exploring new areas will not necessarily go smoothly. Good planning will minimise surprises, but forces beyond your control can cause vendors to miss delivery dates. Even when you crosscheck your teammates, they can mis-estimate the amount of work involved. Sometimes people you rely on will make commitments they cannot deliver on.

If you have done everything in your power to set management expectations properly and they still insist on "no surprises", you are working for management that considers itself above the common concerns of everyday project life.

These are the calm cool dunderheads who simply say, "Get it done! Don’t bother me with the details. That’s what we are paying you to do."

If you take that statement at face value, you are risking your career. When you make the necessary decisions to pull the project through. They will find several obvious reasons to discipline you severely and deny you any reward for successful completion of the contract.

Success in this environment goes to those who make very safe commitments and document everything to an extraordinary degree at a sixth-grade level with lots of primary colors on a dashboard type of project tracking system.

The fact that this documentation has nothing to do with running the project is immaterial. It is used to communicate soothing PR statements on the status of the project and if done properly projects an amazingly convincing picture of a project totally under control.

Needless to say, these projects are a pain to work on because most of your time will be spent making up acceptable fiction for the weekly dashboard. There are people who love this kind of project. I am sure they are model citizens and are beloved by their families and pets.

However, if your forte is cutting-edge design, you will regret the day you signed on to this project, no matter how much they are paying you. You need to get a job with a real company as soon as possible.

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