What Is Not of Interest to Suits (Generally Speaking)

  • Discussion of technical risk.  As the sorry story of the Obamacare website debacle unfolds, one can only imagine the yawning, fidgeting with gizmos, and other signs of audience uninterest that greeted the tech team’s feeble attempts to discuss the tech risks of the project at the outset.  Suits hate to hear any details about technical risk: all they want is the geeks’ assurance that tech risk will be manageable and will be managed.
  • Discussion of technical merit.  As with risk, so with merit.  Suits don’t want to hear what approaches are preferred, and why.
  • Discussion of Schedule/Budget risk.  The one thing that is sacred in the Obamacare discussions is the immovability of the end date.  One of the first big software projects I worked on as a programming professional had a delivery date of April 1.  No one saw – or at least admitted they saw – the irony of a project end date of April Fools’ Day which, as early as January of that year, we all knew was completely unachievable.  Yet we solemnly swore that 4/1 was written in stone until the week before.

All this is quite a change from the investor presentation setting, where most of the questions from potential investors revolve around risk and reward (although here, too, the discussion is almost never very technical).

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