Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Most Things Go Out of Control Slowly

How does a project get to be a year behind schedule? One day at a time.
Fred Brooks

I read a book (forever ago) called The Mythical Man-Month written by the man quoted above. The gist of it is "adding manpower to a late software project makes it later." But how do we get to the point where we're simply tossing resources at a problem to fix it?

Even smart people can misrepresent how much much work they think that they can do. There's a process of  where one imagines their most productive hour and multiplies that by 40 hours, then by four weeks, then by twelve months. One minor slip in that logic (for example, you may only have four productive hours a week) and the effects are staggering.

Communication, organization and other pieces of daily work life are all transaction costs in delivering any sort of project. It's very hard to estimate how much time these kinds of tasks will take.

I'm tackling a few personal projects over the next few weeks and I'm trying to limit them to things I can do by myself in 48 hours over a weekend. This process is one I learned doing films in a weekend for the 48 hour film festival. When you start planning a few hours at a time it's amazing what you can get accomplished.

So, now I'm thinking small+fast=done.

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