Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Too Many Cooks Spoil the Project

So how many times have you heard that phrase?

"Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth".

I usually start my own variant of it when I'm in the kitchen.

"Git!  My Kitchen!  MINE!"

People being social beings tend to gravitate where others are.   Prepare food and now you have cause and effect. 

Throw in a dog or a parrot or both and now you have a very full stew pot.

No, I'm not suggesting that you cook your faithful companion, feathered or furry.

When I'm in the kitchen puttering about, there's a much higher chance that I'll be joined by one of three critters in my house at least for a sniff around.

Usually the largest of the critters will mutter an apology and try to be scarce, or at least as scarce as possible.  The other two will either shout out a cheery Hello! or sniff a wet black nose around the corner while twisting his spine into a neat S Curve and sprawling in the entryway in the most inconvenient way possible.

Does that extra "help" speed up the task?  Nope. 

Trying to make a holiday meal doesn't work when you have a house full of cooks unless they all have their tasks laid out in front of them ahead of time.

Making bread does not take two people.  However when the second person arrives, it's always best to "give them a job" and ask them to go fetch something.

That's why the midwife on TV programs will tell the "expectant Father" to go boil water.  Giving birth rarely requires boiling water, and it will remove an extra pair of hands while that pot is boiling. 

Go make us a spot of tea, pop, you're in the way.

Recently I've found out that mindset has a formal name to it in Project Management.  It is called "Brooks' Law".

Fred Brooks was a person who managed large software projects for IBM back-in-the-day.  His observation was that throwing new people at a project didn't make it finish faster, it would simply slow it down.  Reason is that you have to bring the new people up to speed first and that slows down your most productive workers.

To Quote:  Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.

Too many cooks again.

Once they're up to speed, you have all those extra "interactions" forming a bit of drag on the system and slowing everything down.

If it did indeed speed things up, that extra body, it means you didn't have enough hands to get the job done when you started so sometimes ... you just might have to throw people at it.

Just not when you're baking bread.  If I'm cooking, I'll tell you "Git!  My Kitchen".

You'll get your rolls later when they're done, sorry.  Here, have a glass of Iced Tea.

The corollary to Brooks' Law is even more telling.  Just don't boil that water because:

"Nine Women Can't Make a Baby in One Month."

I'll have that Iced Tea now. 

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