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Management Side
Week of 31 August 2020: The Big Lie

Email Jim at jthompson@ipulpmedia.com

By Fos

I returned to the convention and another case was just wrapping up. Missed it. Sorry.

The Great Mother said, "Any more cases?"

The clerk responded, "Gup is here and has something to say about project management."

"Come on up, Gup!"

Gup came to the front of the room, a bit timid and fidgeting with his front paws.

"Honored Cadre," he said loudly, but with timidity.

The Great Mother responded, "Now, now, son. You are among friends, just tell your story."

"Well, I have spent most of my life in what they call the 'engineering department' in a paper mill. I've gotten to know the place pretty well. The living is easy, these Big Things often eat at their desks and there are crumbs left all over the place. Water is in abundance, because the roof leaks. Actually, I think the Big Things would consider it pretty 'shabby'--whatever that means."

"Yes, go on," encouraged the Great Mother.

"There is this practice in the department, it is a way they treat their suppliers and contractors.

"Typically, these engineers write rather simple contracts. It makes no difference what they are buying...machinery, computers, structures or construction services. Then, after they are awarded, they add other work to it."

Someone in the back of the room yelled, "Scope creep!"

"Yes," Gup said. "Scope creep. Over time, these engineers have gotten quite good at this, adding a little at a time as the project goes on, getting the suppliers and contractors to do these additional things, always saying, 'we'll settle up at the end, I'll watch out for you."

"OK, so what happens at the end of the project?" asks the Great Mother.

"Always the same thing. The suppliers or contractors submit their final bill, the managing engineer looks it over carefully, maybe even say they need to study it for a few days. Then, in a final meeting with the supplier or contractor, they say this: 'You did a great job, and I would like to help you, but there is nothing left in the budget, sorry.'"

"Then what happens?"

"That depends on the supplier or contractor. If it is a small amount, they usually walk away. If it is bigger amount, they protest. For that, the engineers in this department have a standard answer, 'Well, if you want future work in this mill, you'll need to forget this and make it up in the next project.'"

From the back of the room, "THE BIG LIE! THE BIG LIE! THE BIG LIE!"

Pretty soon the whole convention was chanting "THE BIG LIE!"

Yes, that is how our convention ended this year. We all agreed the Big Things have some Big Lies.

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________

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