Biting my tongue

I was on the subway last night, sitting next to a couple of project managers. I could tell they were PMs because I overheard part of their conversation, including how one proudly announced he’d successfully got a Software Requirements Specification signed off after only three months, and the other bemoaned how she had to keep a tight rein on her customer because he kept changing his mind. I suspect they both worked for some part of the government because I recognised some of the abbreviations they used, but also because they seemed completely unconcerned that their projects were going to take years (and millions of dollars) and then ultimately fail. Not that they’ll be around to experience the consequences – one was talking about their fourth re-organisation of the year, while the other said he was trying to get moved to another department.

Hearing them talk about how if they needed an answer from their customer they had to go via the business analysts, who are now reporting to someone else, and how neither project seemed to have produced anything but specification docs in the past year, just annoyed me. The waste of money. The waste of time. The lack of concern that they’re destined to fail. Aaaargh!

At first I thought about butting into their conversation and asking if they’d ever heard of Agile, but the more I overheard the more it made me determined never to work on that kind of project … or with the kind of people who just don’t care about their project’s success.

I enjoy working with people who understand that customers (like everyone else) change their mind, that a project is measured by its ability to deliver what the customer needs not the volume of its paperwork, that care about the project’s health and want to see it through to its successful completion … and maybe that’s why I see myself as a scrum master, a facilitator, a coach & mentor, and not a traditional project manager?