Companies rise and fall. Nothing is forever. This isn’t a cliché. The largest companies in the world gave way to other companies. Giants have gone bankrupt. It’s a fact of life.
What I find extremely frustrating is when great companies fall over easily foreseeable errors. When the red flags were waving, the alarm bells went off, people were waving their hands in the air to warn of the imminent crash, yet the ship kept on straight into the glacier.
An amazing book was published in 1975. That is over 45 years ago now. Every professional heard of it. Not as many read it, I am sure. It is called The Mythical Man-Month.
The Mythical Man-Month explains in painfully simple detail why throwing more bodies at the problem won’t solve it. How faced with an unrealistic deadline you are bound to fail. How scope and deadlines should be managed, not the workforce.
The idea is simple: hiring incurs overhead. From interviewing to onboarding, you spend your existing workforce on tasks that don’t get you any closer to delivery. Then, you start paying the real price: the communication matrix becomes so complex that even critical information gets lost. More people also means more resources – whether it’s money, space, computation power or support.
Before you know it, you’ve thrown money at the problem like there’s no tomorrow and are still no closer to meeting your goals. The board of directors is fuming. The investors are furious. Where has all the money gone? Why hasn’t the company delivered on time?
I am writing this in 2022. If you’re reading this and it sounds familiar, please, please get a copy of The Mythical Man-Month and read it. Then get everyone around you to read it. Let’s not make the same mistake again. Not over 45 years after we’ve learned better…
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