• Subject: Re: Who's going to call Hesheys?
  • From: email@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx (James W Kilgore)
  • Date: Sun, 31 Oct 1999 01:51:07 -0800
  • Organization: Progressive Data Systems, Inc.

Wynn, et al,

I've seen this type of situation in installations only a fraction of the
scale that Hershey attempted.

IMHO, a fish starts to rot from the head. So my grandmother taught me.

Under these circumstances, the hardware folks, would, of course, ask:
"Is it a hardware problem?  No. Our hardware works." (as designed) ...
All twenty of them!

The software folks, would, of course, ask: "Is it a software problem? 
No. Our software works." (as designed) ... All twenty of them!

Therefore it -must- be a people problem.

OK, what is the people problem?  Are they in over their heads?  You've
got a 500 piece jig saw puzzle and although you look at the cover of the
box and see the big picture noone, or better yet everyone, involved ever
bothered to put the pieces in place.  I mean, after all, they -saw- the
solution, putting it all together is work!  That nasty ol' four letter
word. <g>

I've never really subscribed to that view.  IMO, I believe that most
professionals are conscience, dedicated, problem solvers.  At least in
the technical arena.

The common denominator has been that there is the lack of a single, high
authority, person who "owned" the project.  Sadly to say, all too often,
a goal is stated then responsibility (without authority) is handed over
to a steering committee.  It doesn't take long before anarchy sets in
and "cover your butt" management becomes the daily driving force.  Noone
is trying to reach the intended goal.  The captain jumped ship!  The
crew is left to sink or swim.  Or more likely, swim poorly.

I doubt that any one of us will ever learn the bottom line about what
happened at Hershey, but I'm willing to bet that lack of leadership has
a significant role.

Forget about identifying or pointing fingers at the hardware/software
providers, they aren't the -real- issue.  Rookie players don't even get
in the door.  Especially in a company of this caliber.

But the blaming does have a way of filtering down until a scape goat is
found.  Got to cover that butt!

James (I won't even get into the Harvard Business Review "Fear of
Success" series) Kilgore

Wynn Osborne wrote:
> I am absolutely amazed that after 50+ years of computing, how nasty and
> failure-prone these big software projects are.
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