With the hind-sight of many years in the IT industry I get the sense that a large number of projects can best be described as one of the Coyote and Road Runner episodes.

 A short reminder…

The Coyote and the Road Runner are two cartoon characters featuring in a Warner Bros. cartoon series. The common theme features a cunning Coyote who, using a set of sophisticated contraptions, tools, methods and apparatuses is attempting to capture a rather yummy road runner.

Analogy to Project Management…

Watching any episode of this funny cartoon series, you can’t but feel sorry for the poor Coyote who, having gone through an extensive, elaborate and detailed planning, keeps on failing at the execution level. For some reason or another, the various machines purchased from the ACME factory fail to deliver, and when they happen to work, they always work at the wrong time or not quite in accordance with the specifications, with devastating results to the poor Coyote.

But there’s another aspect…

We laugh when we observe the Coyote’s futile attempts to capture the Road Runner. Interestingly enough, we are amused not just at the time where the failure is materialized, we also laugh in anticipation, knowing that the failure is imminent. This seems to be a human natural behavioral attitude. In a similar fashion, while observing someone else’s project who seems to be getting off the rails, we do not shy away from making sarcastic comments as we very elegantly sip from our mug of coffee during these inevitable corridor discussions. Humor is a universal trait and laughing at others’ misfortunes seems to be a universal trait as well. But why is it that we are always surprised and disappointed when other people laugh at our expense when it is us who play the role of the Coyote?

Think about it!

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