You Suck@Projects

You Suck@Projects
(A cautionary ballad for the executive palate)

Okay, okay, I get it!
Your non-existent experience successfully managing projects  
didn’t get you promoted into your executive position. 
(I understand! Project managers aren’t on any executive track! 
It might  be  superstition, but they’ll never get
your  commission.) Will  they?
And now you’ve inherited these ungainly systems,  
which are mostly pursuing projects as missions,
what will you do now?

You’ll do what you did in B-school: you’ll cram. 
You’ll grab a few books, and stuff  like exams. 
I mean, how hard could managing projects be? 
It ain’t rocket science, obviously.

What will you read? Maybe PMI's theories, Mythical Man Month, and   
Wylie’s acclaimed Executive Series. 
What will you take away? 
Well-distilled nostrums; real heady stuff. 
A tiny ration of common sense. 
And enough on-time,  on-budget,  on-spec horse shit to compost a small country. 
You’ll spout acronyms, my friend, 
until no one ever questions
your credentials again. 

Then you’ll sound the horn, you’ll lead the way, 
and you’ll start making commitments for others that very first day. 
You’ll cite strategies, and competition, using buzzwords to convey
 A  deepening dedication to whatever it is you say.
And you’ll command, “Deliver by June,” and, “Play some  musical  chairs!
Just tell me the kinda resources you need, and I’ll plead for you upstairs. 
Just justify your methods and rationalize your goals 
and there’s no limit to how far all of us will go.” 


(I know, I know, you won’t mention the fact 
that project management ain’t on the executive track ---
while you motivate them through Hell and back.)

Then what? Yeah, then what? 
They deliver over-runs and under-shots, 
FUBARs, SNAFUs, and you-don’t-even-wanna-know-whats. 
Their best laid plans usually exceed fixed cost;
they embarrass you with your boss’s boss’s boss.
You miss a strategic deadline twice 
and discover your old friends aren’t quite as nice as they usta be at the club. 
For you, bub, are boob of the month, moron of the quarter, and idiot of the first half-year 
‘till you wonder what in the devil ever enticed you over here 
when you could have positioned yourself to rise through Sales or Marketing 
and left this project crap to stumble, curse, and fail, 
but nooooo, you just had to hop the fastest plane on your way to the top of the top of your game. 

Then you wear your career like a toilet seat crown
and nobody appreciates you hanging around.
Your project teams seem to notice your summit‘s 
a  pimple, a dimple, and your stock simply plummets.
‘Cause you suck at projects, you suck like Merlot, 
you suck at the stuff you were supposed to control: 
the smooth operation of these things you don’t know. 
You’ve mistaken these efforts for something you’ve seen, 
for processes, metrics, and rational schemes. 
But none of these projects perform to your skills! 
Worse, each one insists upon threatening to kill 
the one who, with his sincerity pure,
proposed what then seemed  just  a  reasonable  cure.

And once you start sucking, you suck  at  your  life,
You  suck  to  your  company, colleagues,  and  wife.
(Who  by  the  way  wonders  why  you  come  home  so  late,  
stumbling  between mumbling and nearly irate.)
No one ever hinted in MBA school
That an  executive’s lot  could  be  half  this  cruel, ... did they?
You  wonder  how  the  magic  wand  you  once  claimed
Could  betray  you  so  quickly,  just  whom  should  you  blame?

But the  breadth  of  your  genius  at  playing  this  game
Simply  leads  you  to  mandate  even  more  of  the  same,
’Cause  you  have  mistaken  what  might  well  be  soccer
For  baseball or football,  and you bet like a sucker.
You coach with the best of intentions and find
Your teams unresponsive to you and your bind.
You’re  stuck  with impossibles, a trussed suckling pig,
But you won’t satisfy  their  concerns  and  renege!
No, you’ll  just   put  your  head  down and fearlessly  charge
Another objective  both  fuzzy and large.

And  if  you’re  at  all  like  your  fellow ’IOs
You’ll continue this dance until they let you go.
To merge  with  the  mumbling executives emeritus
Who  once  sucked  at  projects  but  refuse  to  discuss
How  they  sucked  at  projects,  though  their  teams  seemed  to  fail,
And how you personally tried to guide them through Hell
And  how  if  only  they  would  have  noticed  how  wise  ...
The  guidance  you  offered  coulda  won  them  the  prize.
Instead,  you have  retired early to  write
the  book  that your colleagues  will  stuff  down  at  night
Attempting  to  do  what  not  one  of  them  can,
To  not  suck  at  projects again and again.

And Wylie seems interested in a three volume deal,
to be published with the fanfare certain to seal
The professional fate of whomever might read ’em,
To just suck at projects forever and  ever, and  ever! Amen.

©2008   by   David  A.  Schmaltz  - all  rights  reserved

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