The Gift of Realism

Celebrating the 12 days of Christmas

with short reflections on 12 gifts


Good, fast, cheap: Pick two.

Who says you can’t have it all? Well, apparently software developers do, and good for them.  This short injunction neatly sums up the real but often unacknowledged trade-offs in the performance/schedule/cost world of project management. Would that more managers understood/admitted it; would that more workers felt able to articulate it in response to unreasonable demands!

But we don’t live our whole lives at work: sometimes we are the ones being our own difficult customer or stern taskmaster. At those times, may we remember to step back, take a deep breath, and pick two.

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2 Responses to The Gift of Realism

  1. Jim taylor says:

    No free lunch, eh? It would be interesting to play with other groups of three, of which only two are applicable. Quality, on time, on budget… Dependable, safe, powerful… Polite, obedient, creative…. Rabbi Abraham Kushner, in one of his books, argued that only two of the three characteristics attributed to God are possible — Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent — without self-contradiction. I don’t remember his reasoning, but I was impressed by it at the time.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim – Maybe the rabbi’s list was ‘all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving’ – I can sure see only two of those being internally consistent at a given time! Re playing with other groupings, you make a good point, illustrating one of the coolest things about mental constructs – how often they transcend disciplines.

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