3 rules to save your IT project

This is an excerpt from Time article about “How an unlikely group of high-tech wizards revived Obama’s troubles HealthCare.gov website”.

This excerpt focus on the three rules theses wizards apply when rescuing the project a set of IT services companies has lead to disaster. All Agile principles : stand-up meetings, developers get the call, get managers out of the way, solving problems completely, reduce work in progress etc …). An awesome story.

Rule 1: “The war room and the meetings are for solving problems. There are plenty of other venues where people devote their creative energies to shifting blame.”
Rule 2: “The ones who should be doing the talking are the people who know the most about an issue, not the ones with the highest rank. If anyone finds themselves sitting passively while managers and executives talk over them with less accurate information, we have gone off the rails, and I would like to know about it.” (Explained Dickerson later: “If you can get the managers out of the way, the engineers will want to solve things.”)
Rule 3: “We need to stay focused on the most urgent issues, like things that will hurt us in the next 24–48 hours.”


  1. Hi,

    These rules are OK but not very realistic. When was the last time you saw a meeting without blame shifting? When was the last time you saw a meeting where the people who actually do the work did most of the talking?

    The best thing you can do in a meeting is to ensure that you don’t get off the topic and you don’t start discussing things that are outside the scope of the meeting.

  2. Hi PM Hut and thanks for your comment.

    They may not sound realistic but I believe there are real and helped in saving a multi million dollar project. I’ve run a couple of projects without blame shifting and most of the people doing the work did most of the talking : funnily enough these succeed. I can see we have different perspectives on project meeting : my view is to have everybody standing, focus on the indicators and have the project not lasting longer than 15 mns.

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