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  • Writer's pictureAstutely Obtuse Staff Writer

Quick Takes: Responding to Criticism

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Even though we only have a handful of posts up at this point, we’ve gotten a couple of messages that have a similar theme. We thought we’d take the time to respond to them.


Dear Astutely Obtuse,

Your blog paints a very negative view of project management and stakeholders. This is very concerning, as the need for organizations to have qualified project managers is extremely important. Your pessimism presents an apocalyptic view. You’re not helping, you’re just discouraging young MBAs and other business students from pursuing project management.


That’s fair… it’s bullshit… but it’s fair.


The reason we started this blog was that we wanted to discuss aspects of the business world, specifically projects, that aren’t very straightforward. In various PM courses we’re told that if you follow these principles, stick to these best practices, and agile the ever-living fucking goddamn shit out of your project methodologies, then everything will come up roses. Which we all know, is bullshit.


You can do everything right and still fail, that’s just the nature of the universe.


Consider our snarky pessimism as a reality check. If us pointing out that sometimes you will have to deal with assholes, that sometimes you might have to pushback for the betterment of the project and organization, that every once in a while you will have to argue a point with a stakeholder in order to get them to understand the entirety of the situation is enough to cause someone to second guess going into project management, that’s probably a good thing. Because people like that would probably crumble the instant things started going to shit.


You seem to have nothing but bad experiences with project management, have you thought maybe the problem, is you?


Jesus… every… fucking… day muh-dude.


For a change of pace, let me tell you about the smoothest project I ever undertook.


I met with the product owner to uncover what he was asking for. The request submitted was very vague and didn’t really make sense in the context of the system as it existed at that time. We set up a meeting and it quickly becomes obvious that he has a vague idea of what he wants, but no idea how to communicate that. He apologizes a lot. So, this is starting off very badly. At the time, I was a business analyst… requirements elicitation is kinda my thing.


He excuses himself and turns off his camera. A minute later he comes back, and one of the agents that report to him joins the meeting. She takes us through the typical workflow, the pain points, and the problems that are arising downstream because of the issues with their workflow. She then read the PRF and started filling in the gaps. We talked through everything and after about 20 minutes, we had enough to start work.

He understood that his knowledge was very limited, and he knew that he wouldn’t be able to discuss the request in a context that was helpful, so he brought in someone that could. He also knew that he wouldn’t be able to fully appreciate the changes we were making, so he also provided us with a point of contact that could provide us with further guidance, when needed.


He sat in on every meeting, whether it was a demo of the current functionality or an example of future functionality. Then let those who are more knowledgeable do the talking. When he saw opportunities for improvement he consulted with the project team to determine if it could be added without affecting the scope, added despite affecting the scope, or if he should put in a new request.


When all was said and done, we deployed work that had a huge impact on the end users. They were very grateful, and the feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive.


It was a great example of what happens when you have knowledgeable people who trust each other enough to know that there are gaps in that knowledge, and you must trust others to bridge that gap. When everything aligns, great things happen.


All said we are focusing on things going wrong, it might be pessimistic, and it might cause some people to rethink their career choice, but the point is to better equip future PMs with the knowledge that things might go wrong, but there are ways of overcoming the bullshit.

2 comments

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2 Comments


Guest
Mar 01, 2023

oh look at us we sware and say controversial things we are soooooo edgy


i got the title of your next post "your blog sucks part 1: we're just some idiot tween in our mom's basement trying to sound grownup"


you're all pathetic. you think you're making a difference being edgelords? grow the f*** up

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Astutely Obtuse Staff Writer
Astutely Obtuse Staff Writer
Mar 02, 2023
Replying to

Friend, you sound like a 14-year-old who just discovered Nietzsche and are trying to sound intelligent. As far as legitimate criticism goes, "no-you" would have been a more coherent response to this article.

We do appreciate how clear it is that you get all your insults from sites like 4chan though. I'll make a deal with you, you get off the fucking internet, and I'll stop getting off to your mom.

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