Management by Wishful Thinking Is More Common than You'd (Wish to) Think

By CIOinsight  |  Posted 03-30-2005 Print Email
Opinion: Managers can often overlook fine-tuning or overhauling details along the way, failing to learn the basic lessons from their previous flub.

"Nothing is so easy as to deceive one's self. What we wish for, we readily believe." —Demosthenes

Too many executives with control over system implementation projects practice MBWT (Management by Wishful Thinking), blundering into predictable box canyons, and incinerating budgets and energy that could have been spent wisely elsewhere.

The wishful thinkers share amazement at the steaming rubble of their costly failure, and then move on to the next project where they do it all over again, refusing to learn the basic lessons from their previous flub.

What is MBWT?

MBWT managers believe that if you sprinkle enough fairy dust and wish hard enough, you can make anything happen, regardless of available resources, appropriate team members and schedule realities.

But mostly what the MBWT manager overlooks is the hard work of managing and fine-tuning or overhauling details along the way.

Frequently in big organizations like multinational corporations and in governments, the outfit makes a plan that has been shaped by "political" considerations, not rigorous planning.

Then it holds a couple of rah-rah meetings, and the execs cross their fingers, hoping that their desire for success and the importance of the outcome will "make" the outcome happen they way they want it to.

You see MBWT behavior from IT executives who believe (or let system vendors convince them) they can deploy significant new systems without doing serious testing ("Oh, we'll just catch those mistakes early in the deployment"), or running the new system in parallel with the old system, or investing effort in change management.

Both testing and running systems in parallel (at least for a few months) are known requirements, like Newton's Laws.

And every once in a while, someone comes along and pretends their faith means the Laws don't really hold for them personally, until reality thumps them back into line.

Next Page: Making projects "succeed."



 

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