An obstacle to the unrealistic

Management and software development bear an interesting relationship.

If you invest $1 million in a software project to generate $1.1 million in value, you need all the project management you can muster. You need goals, schedules, deadlines, regular check-ins, progress reports and documentation.

If you invest $1 million in a software project in return for a chance to generate $50 million in value, you are probably better off with almost no management at all. Google Earth and Wikipedia were both developed without management oversight. Almost every open source software, which collectively generate billions in revenue, also doesn’t have managers behind them.

It turns out that for software projects with small, incremental wins, management is important. But for large, innovative leaps, management can get in the way.

Management helps us stick to realisitic plans. That is a feature. But is sometimes also a bug, for it prevents us from pursuing unrealistic projects that redraw our boundaries.