The Magic Triangle Parable

By | January 28, 2011

A story from a friend, but it probably sounds familiar to many of you.  It is related to the magic triangle of Scope, Resources and Time.  You can only focus on one.  Trying to focus on two or three is a fool’s game and inevitably leads to failure.  Here is an illustration of trying to get more than one.

/scene A typical office.  Fade in from black.

A specification for a product has been delivered to an engineering group from a business manager.

Engineer: OK, looks great. This will take 2 months with the resources we have.
Manager: No way! We need this in 1 month!
Engineer: Well, we could cut scope? or add people?
Manager: Well, the budget is fixed, so no additional people. Do whatever you have to do otherwise to ship on time.
Engineer: Ok, will do.

A month passes. The engineer shows the product to the manager.

Manager: This looks terrible! Where is all the stuff in the specification?! We spent alot of time on those details.
Engineer: Well, you wanted it in a month, so we had to cut alot.
Manager: Well, this is no good. How much longer to put in the rest?
Engineer: A month, plus some time since we lost time figuring out this reduced scope.
Manager: A month? You are slipping the deadline by a month??
Engineer: No, I told you it would take 2 months in the beginning. You said to cut scope.
Manager: All I can see is you are delivering half a product a month late, with a lot of excuses.
Engineer: Ugh. What do you want us to do?
Manager: You have 2 weeks. Make it happen!

2 weeks pass. The product is released.

Customer: This product…it seems…not that good. It would be much better if it had these 6 things.
Engineer: Yeah, we had to cut those to make the deadline.
Customer: Are you adding those in soon?
Engineer: I don’t know, I have to ask the manager. He just gave me the spec for a new product line though.

/end scene

Moral of the story: You can only be good on one thing in the magic triangle.

One thought on “The Magic Triangle Parable

  1. doug

    in each scene, the engineer is the antagonist. the blame should actually be distributed amongst the manager and the engineer, as well as the unnamed executive. misinterpretation of a spec is a circular problem.

    Reply

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