And finally, assignment of blame

I was discussing the natural progression of projects with an experienced friend. Here are the real project stages:

  1. Planning (have an idea)
  2. Estimation – always wildly optimistic
  3. Design – this stage may be done while implementing
  4. Implementation – project starts to overrun
  5. Private discussion with customer introduces a few trivial changes
  6. Design is finally written down – this stage may be omitted if time pressing
  7. Changes are discovered to double the project time and budget
  8. Project starts over-running severely
  9. Features start being cut, but are replaced by new features
  10. Project now massively over-running
  11. Features cut again
  12. Project released in beta
  13. Steady set of bug fixes
  14. Blame assigned
  15. Testing carried out – this stage can be omitted if customers desperate
  16. Innocent punished

Obviously this is different from the Design – evaluate – implement – evaluate – test – evaluate cycle that I learnt during my MSc, but I fear that even that included the two vital stages: assignment of blame and punishment of the innocent.
The easiest technique for blame assignment is, of course, to blame the absent. They are safely out of the way, and it will not harm them. Second is to blame the customer and the boss. This does not damage the team. Finally, blame may be placed on whoever appears most vulnerable to it. This has no relation to responsibility

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