The project management triangle

During a kickoff meeting for a big project that was susceptible of being outsourced, the CEO (back in time he was just called “The Boss”) said the three magic words: “I want the project done right, quick, and cheap”. Then one of the engineers drew “pick any two of the three”, the world famous project management triangle.

The CEO stared at the image for a few seconds and said: “Bullshit, I’ll pick fast and good, no matter how expensive it is… and then, wish them good luck to get paid”. After he left the meeting, we did cancel the project, didn’t contact any of the outsourcing companies, and tried to forget that the company was managed by this individual.

Would you like to work for me again?

Few years ago friend of mine and CEO called me to talk about some new opportunities. He was working on new business. The idea was really good. He already had Fortune 500 clients asking for this kind of service number of times. It was the time to finally do it and he needed someone to lead IT part for his new software venture. A CTO.

Since we knew each other for couple years already, I used to work for him as PM managing two teams, saved couple doomed projects and helped him saved his first business from closing I was optimistic. We’ve agreed to met at his partners office, CEO of marketing company and source of these Fortune 500 clients.

I’ve arrived to learn that there is no CEO yet, neither my friend, and that CEO he might arrive in an hour or two, but that I have a call scheduled with some potential client. At first I just wanted to walk out, but hell. Lets see what happens. I have the call, I get introduced as PM for this project (I’m not employed yet, did not even have an interview), we talk for over half an hour about the vision, some requirements and so on. After the call I make myself comfortable. Eventually CEO arrives, surprised I’m still here.

We improvise an interview. It turns out that there is really no plan to start this new business, just an idea. If I’m really interested in working for them I could try to get this PM job, but they are not sure if they need yet another PM. As for CTO position for new business, it might or might not happen. With this attitude he asked me what’s my decision and how much I would like to make. Seeing how things roll and what kind of organization it is I’ve just “asked” for what I’m making now, no more no less. After long pause CEO managed to say that there had to be some mistake and the meeting is over. I did not even manage to leave the building when friend of mine called me, screaming…

Friend (CEO): Are you crazy? You want to make how much?

Me: That’s how much I make right now.

Friend: But I thought you would work for us for free for first three months, to test your skills.

Me: I’ve managed two of your teams, saved couple doomed projects and ultimately helped you save your business and you still need to test my skills? Wait, how do you want to test my skills if friend of yours does not want to start new business any time soon?

At this point either one of us hanged up.