Monday, August 03, 2009

It’s a car, but what kind?

In my current role all analogies must be related to cars, so I thought I’d pile in with one of my own (and offload some my current frustrations whilst I’m about it.)

Imagine for a moment that I work for a large car company. I have been contracted to build a small team to develop a racing car, outside of the factory production process. We can do it quicker than they could normally, use different materials, and have been allowed to operate outside of the normal operational processes.

For our next project the same team have been asked to develop a rally car. It’s a bit different, and a bit more complicated, but that’s OK, we can handle it, and we’re confident of hitting the date.

And then, half way through the project, they announce that the rally car we’re building is going to be used as the model on which they intend to base their new family hatchback, and that they have already decided on a date by which they intend to retire their existing top-selling model. Only it’s the same date as we are expected to deliver the rally version. And we’re not getting any more money.

Several weeks later, having roped in the corporation’s finance, legal, marketing, sales & advertising teams, and gotten buy-in to the date from the executive board they are all asking why we’re struggling to meet the deadline.