Thursday, February 16, 2012

On program management

James T Brown writes:
A program manager needs to have an ingrained sense of organizational mission, must lead and have the presence of a leader, must have a vision and strategy for long-term organizational improvement, must be a relationship builder, and must have the experience and ability to assess people and situations beyond their appearances
"The Handbook of Program Management"

Some say: yes, but so do project managers. And, they are right. The difference is the complexity of the politics, the scale being managed, the amount at stake (too big to fail?), the ability to speak truth to power, and the willingness to take a risk that is consequential to the business (bet the business?)

General Sam Phillips, when taking over the Apollo program deep into the time line, saw that the moon would not be achieved in 1969 with the sequential test schedule proposed by Huntsville for the Saturn 5. The traditional approach: test each stage; get it working; mate them one-by-one; test each stack, and then the whole stack.

General Sam said: stack it all up and light the candle. He took a huge risk. If it worked, the US would make the moon; if it didn't, General Sam would retire and the challenge of JFK would be missed.

That's program management (and the rest is history)

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