Friday, January 22, 2010

Traps and oops

A recent book review prompts the post.

We all marvel at the American ingenuity, and intelligence, that culminated in the moon landings and all of the side-effects that changed our lives, technically and socially.

We also know that 'perfect storms' happen (there are just too many to list). The moon program was so successful is almost the opposite of a perfect storm. Though there were mishaps (and lives lost), the program went well. The trouble with success like this is that it can breed hubris. How to control that human reaction is paramount to our future success.

So, somewhere between the gigantic success and the frustrating failure is the balance that we seek. This book covers that topic. Title: If We Can Put a Man on the Moon ... Getting Big Things done in Government.

Here are the pitfalls covered that are cleverly described as traps. We'll be discussing each of these in turn, in the contexts covered by this blog.
  • The Partial Map Trap: Importance of good project management
  • The Tolstoy Syndrome: Letting facts/data and models blind you
  • Design-Free Design: Getting the cart before the horse and believing in top-down hubris when grounded engineering needs to be in the balance
  • The Overconfidence Trap: Ah, forgetting that the past does not foretell the future
  • The Complacency Trap: Letting group-think, and fear of the truth, keep the right information suppressed
Ah, it'll be fun. Need to thank William Eggers and John O'Leary. Now, if business leaders think that these messages are only for government works, they're in a trap which we'll need to add to the list.

Let's see, Lordly Prince trap? There will be others added later.


01/19/2011 -- Changed the pointer (Deloitte moved the page) to support the 4th January post.

Modified: 01/19/2011

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