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What Sci-Fi Movies Teach Us About Project Management Skills 186

Posted by samzenpus
from the I'm-afraid-I-can't-accept-that-proposal-dave dept.
Esther Schindler writes "It's certainly fun to pretend to find work inspiration from our favorite SF films. That's what Carol Pinchefsky does in two posts, one about positive business lessons you can take away from SF films (such as 'agile thinking can save many a project (and project manager) in a crisis' from Robocop and team motivation lessons from Buffy), and the other, 5 Project Management Horror Stories Found in Sci-Fi Movies, with examples of the impact of poor documentation on Captain America."
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What Sci-Fi Movies Teach Us About Project Management Skills

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  • Science Fact (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bscott (460706) on Friday December 20, 2013 @12:01AM (#45743109)

    You don't need to reach for SF to get a great project management lesson, just look at the Apollo program.

    A triumph of the human spirit, of technology, of ingenuity, sure - but mainly, an overwhelming triumph of project management. Who says the government can't handle any big jobs, eh? (well, anyone who's been watching for the last 40 years maybe...)

  • Re:Science Fact (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jd2112 (1535857) on Friday December 20, 2013 @01:06AM (#45743365)
    Appropriate quote:

    “Crash programs fail because they are based on the theory that, with nine women pregnant, you can get a baby a month.”
    Wernher Von Braun
  • Ender's Game (Score:4, Interesting)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Friday December 20, 2013 @01:30AM (#45743441) Journal
    Not a hip movie to like right now, but Ender's Game is almost all about project management and leadership.

    Ender sees the great potential in his team, even in the misfits and castaways, but he also has high expectations for them to reach that potential. That is what I try to do as a leader.
  • Re:Science Fact (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Spy Handler (822350) on Friday December 20, 2013 @01:42AM (#45743487) Homepage Journal

    And they launched Challenger when the solid-fuel booster O-rings were too cold to seat properly, over the objections of the engineers.

    That's true, but what's even sadder is that those damn O-rings should've never even been there in the first place. The SRBs were meant to be a one piece monolithic design. However it was changed into a segmented multi piece O-ring design because pork had to be provided to Morton Thiokol at the insistence of the senator from Utah, who held the purse strings. (Thiokol, being in Utah, cannot ship a large one piece by ocean and could only build segmented ones shipped by rail)

    The lesson here is, do not let managers into your project who have their own agendas that conflict with the main project's mission.

  • by flargleblarg (685368) on Friday December 20, 2013 @03:30AM (#45743779)

    "We shall redouble our efforts"

    I've always wondered... Why didn't he just say quadruple?

  • Re:Science Fact (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DerekLyons (302214) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (retawriaf)> on Friday December 20, 2013 @09:52AM (#45744977) Homepage

    And then NASA changed their management. And the new management dropped "belt and suspenders" "managing for Murphy's law" in favor of "managing for success". And they launched Challenger

    You say this as if previous management didn't also have blood on their hands. Apollo 1 saw 3 astronauts burnt alive in their capsule.

    Flammable materials, pure Oxygen environment, negative pressure preventing door from opening doesn't really smell like "managing for Murphy's law".

    And Apollo 12, which was sent to the Moon despite having been hit by lighting and possibly having damage which could not be detected. And Apollo (IIRC) 15, which had a failed cable assembly in the SPS - and which was allowed to go into Lunar orbit even though the mission rules specified a return to Earth. (There are others, but these are the ones that leap to mind off hand.)

    Apollo era NASA was lucky, they kept making bets and rolling snake eyes - and then covered up for decades just how big the risks had been and how close they repeatedly came to disaster.

Contemptuous lights flashed flashed across the computer's console. -- Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy