QUOTE (dvandorn @ Aug 13 2008, 09:10 PM)
Haven't you all been on projects where the deadlines are set well ahead of the true drop-dead dates, just to ensure that the *real* dates could be made?
I think that only works if the soft deadlines are known to be soft, or if this is the absolute last time the manager in question will work with the workers in question. Because as soon as they know that Deadline X means something else, their activity will cut to fit.
But the real thing I worry about is that when a program is "defended" in some way that cloaks shortfalls, it opens the door to a catastrophic problem of one sort or another. Consider Shuttle+ISS as one example: Way behind schedule, way over budget, and way without purpose; called a "mistake" by the current head of NASA.
Now consider JIMO as another example. It died early in its funding life with strong suspicions that it was simply impossible.
What I'm worried about with masked deadlines and measures that shelter the project from harsh realities is that it may *deserve* those harsh realities. I'd much rather have a JIMO situation that's over before it started than SS+ISS which is going to have a lifespan from 1972-2013 when it's all said and done, with very little to show from it.
I'm worried that the Big Three of Men-to-the-Moon, Men-to-Mars, and Mars Sample Return are going to hit us with a triple whammy of catastrophically failed programs. I can't possibly assess their feasibility on my lonesome, but it worries me if the management style is to bet the house that they can't fail, and to push the hard decisions to the other side of massive funding outlays.