A lot of what I’ve been writing over the last four weeks or so has been about trying to identify contradictions.
But of course, the hardest contradictions to identify are the ones in yourself, in your own thinking and in your own behaviour.
Here are some of the ways that I’m a hypocrite, which is to say, here are some of the contradictions in my own behaviour.
I point out that software is eating everything and that certainly at a corporate level, people who have the power to do something about it should be doing something about it — and I’m amazed that they aren’t. BUT. I don’t do anything about the way that software is eating my own life. I know that Google on my phone is snooping on me, I know that it’s certainly reporting everywhere I go, I know that it’s certainly reading my mail. It’s slightly laughable and yet reassuring that it thinks I’d be interested in the score of Huddersfield Town Football games. But it’s also intimidating. And if I were to try to counter this intrusion, I wouldn’t know where to start.
This whole book is about the importance of getting feedback from users. It’s about the importance of fashioning and irrigating a value stream between the values of the organisation and its users. BUT. I haven’t really gone out of my way to get feedback on the book. I haven’t really gone out of my way to connect the organisation (me) with my users. If fact, just like a lot of people who have good ideas for projects, I get prickly and defensive very quickly if I start to get feedback from users that I don’t like. I don’t like to hear reactions which don’t fit with my dream of the book and how it should be received.
This touches on something else — which might be called “The clarity paradox.”
The clearer you are about what you want to say, the more people will respond to it in ways that you don’t like.
Actually, I think there are two clarity paradoxes. That’s the first, but there’s also a second.
The clearer you are about what you say, the clearer you are about the things that you don’t know and the limits of what you can say.
I was writing yesterday about the things that software eats. There are some things that it does eat: books, music, dating, shopping, democracy. And there are some other things that it doesn’t eat, I think project management is one of them. And I can’t see how it will, but maybe I’m fooling myself.
Why don’t I think software will eat project management? For the same reason that I think contradictions, occur. I don’t think software will be eaten by project management because thinking and reality have different rules.
That’s right. Thinking and reality have different rules. And managing projects sits on the boundary between the two.
So maybe this is a conclusion of a kind. Project management is about understanding, tolerating the rules of thinking and at the same time, understanding that the rule of reality cannot be defied. Gravity never takes a break. Mortality is one hundred percent. Software takes longer than you think and costs an embarrassing amount.
Project management is about noticing contradictions and understanding that when we see a contradiction, what that is telling us is that our thinking about the world is wrong and that we need to do something about it.
Originally published at https://www.mumbly.co.uk.