The highest proof of virtue is to possess boundless power without abusing it

Lord Macaulay

Software projects, unlike most projects, are highly variable: full of non-repetitive tasks with high variability and uncertainty. To control their outcome, there’s a counterproductive tendency to micromanage every little aspect of them, when everyone agrees that giving individual responsibility over the WBS it’s a much better approach. Following, my recipe to decentralize their management:

  1. Convert conventional unitary metrics (profits, time, revenue & unit cost) to a standard multi-dimensional metric (vg. profits over the life cycle)
  2. Based on the previous metric, model performance metrics (vg. cost overrun, quality shortfalls, delays, risk change)
  3. Conduct a sensitivity analysis of forgoing any of the performance metrics
  4. From the previous analysis, derive practical results based on the total profit impact of missing a performance metric (vg. impact of 1% quality shortfall is 10 times 1% loss of cost overrun)
  5. Based on the previous insights, generate and disseminate decision rules to be applied locally by every team member. Thus, the resulting decision rules are decentralizing decision making, enabling their application to every little aspect of the project while achieving the same global optimum that the centralization of decision making attains.

Note that the underlying idea is anything but new: principles-based regulation follows the same spirit to solve analogous problems.

After all, it’s human nature: the desire to concentrate power, to rule and demand obedience beyond right and reason. Wisdom and virtue are their only counterbalances: because only the righteous consider power as the wisdom of when not to use any of their received power at all.

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