Wednesday, January 05, 2005

So what is the problem?

When we look at a failure such as the CSA it is easy to move straight into solution mode with blame or recommendations or "new" solutions. But let's rest a moment with the reality. A large number of highly paid professionals using the officially mandated management methods didn't even come close to a successful system: it was probably never within reach. Part of the mandated management approach is to manage the risks. Anything that could damage the prospects of the project should be documented and under control. From the perspective of the project there are only two possibilities:
  1. that a known risk was not controlled properly
  2. that a risk was not identified so that it could not be managed

If you like this at a higher level of abstraction we could go for:

  1. Official approaches to risk management did not work
  2. Official approaches to risk management were not used properly

When the Heathrow Express tunnel collapsed, all tunnelling projects using the same New Austrian Tunnelling Method were suspended pending the investigation. When we merely lose half a billion pounds of tax payers money and wreck a few more lives we don't even pause to ask.

I guess this means that the mandated management approaches are a sham:

  1. Either nobody expected them to work in the first place and/or
  2. Best practice is always what we invent today

My impression of all this fiasco is that language and stated purpose is so bent and twisted by the political pressures that piss-ups in breweries are impossible to organise. In the positivist world of IT you cannot take any statement at face value and there is no such thing as reliable information. Risk manage that!

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