Predicting Complexity Leads to Guilt and Guilt Lead to Apathy

Predicting Complexity Leads to Guilt

When you work as a project manager you are expected to be in control. To control and review things, you must be able to predict things. To be able to predict things you need a plan.

The most common planning and control tools are GANT and PERT diagrams. But for a PERT diagram to work, it needs to be accurate and must rest on the assumption that it’s predictable.

How is this possible in a complex and complicated world? These types of tools give the project manager a sense of control. With this tool the project manager can control the holy trinity of scope, cost and schedule. Every real project manager has full control of these parameters; otherwise, he would be a fake.

But what happens when the project manager starts to experience the noise? A feeling of being out of control takes over. The second effect is that he feels guilty and asks, “With the information and resources I had, did I do my best? I’m not in control and I should be. How and why did this project fail? Is there any way to save my reputation when this project fails?”


When doubt and guilt get hold of a project manager, he does not focus on making the best software; instead he focuses on regaining control. No process or methodology is a crystal ball where in you can look into the future, only because he made an initial plan.

It may sound like I dislike GANT and PERT diagrams. Not at all! They can be very useful, but if they are your sole foundations and tools for organizing and controlling your project, I’d say you could develop an ulcer!

Guilt may Lead to Apathy

When a project manager’s work is based on a reliable process that produces predictable results and the manager feels that he did everything by the book (which must be right), he starts to wonder if the team followed the process.

Maybe the developers didn’t follow the process or aren’t doing what they are supposes to.  This can lead guilt, doubt and blame to spread within the organization. When people feel they are trying hard and doing their best and still fail to live up to their own expectations, they will eventually stop trying to do their best.

If I am confronted with failure even when I do my best, it’s best to just mind my own business. Why care about things that I haven’t been assigned to work on, and get blamed for things failing?

When this happens, things could be overlooked. They fall through and apathy takes over. To control this situation, the project manager has micro manage everything. The traditionally defined software development process is broken. It’s not a predictable tool that leads to repeatable results.

Let’s stop fooling ourselves, software development isn’t civil engineering. We don’t have 10% construction that leads to a 90% predictable production. When projects are complex and noisy, no process can be defined in advance to obtain a repeatable result. The solutions must be an adaptive and empirical process control.

Predicting Complexity Leads to Guilt

When you work as a project manager you are expected to be in control. To control and review things, you must be able to predict things. To be able to predict things you need a plan.

The most common planning and control tools are GANT and PERT diagrams. But for a PERT diagram to work, it needs to be accurate and must rest on the assumption that it’s predictable.

How is this possible in a complex and complicated world? These types of tools give the project manager a sense of control. With this tool the project manager can control the holy trinity of scope, cost and schedule. Every real project manager has full control of these parameters; otherwise, he would be a fake.

But what happens when the project manager starts to experience the noise? A feeling of being out of control takes over. The second effect is that he feels guilty and asks, “With the information and resources I had, did I do my best? I’m not in control and I should be. How and why did this project fail? Is there any way to save my reputation when this project fails?”

When doubt and guilt get hold of a project manager, he does not focus on making the best software; instead he focuses on regaining control. No process or methodology is a crystal ball where in you can look into the future, only because he made an initial plan.

It may sound like I dislike GANT and PERT diagrams. Not at all! They can be very useful, but if they are your sole foundations and tools for organizing and controlling your project, I’d say you could develop an ulcer!

Guilt may Lead to Apathy

When a project manager’s work is based on a reliable process that produces predictable results and the manager feels that he did everything by the book (which must be right), he starts to wonder if the team followed the process.

Maybe the developers didn’t follow the process or aren’t doing what they are supposes to.  This can lead guilt, doubt and blame to spread within the organization. When people feel they are trying hard and doing their best and still fail to live up to their own expectations, they will eventually stop trying to do their best.

If I am confronted with failure even when I do my best, it’s best to just mind my own business. Why care about things that I haven’t been assigned to work on, and get blamed for things failing?

When this happens, things could be overlooked. They fall through and apathy takes over. To control this situation, the project manager has micro manage everything. The traditionally defined software development process is broken. It’s not a predictable tool that leads to repeatable results.

Let’s stop fooling ourselves, software development isn’t civil engineering. We don’t have 10% construction that leads to a 90% predictable production. When projects are complex and noisy, no process can be defined in advance to obtain a repeatable result. The solutions must be an adaptive and empirical process control.



  1. I much like it!…

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