Adding more people won’t fix the problem!!!

Dilbert picks up on what is still a surprisingly common issue:

We’ve known this for generations, quite often, if your project is in trouble, the last thing you need is some help. The promised help rarely turns into help, it nearly always turns into more problems.

The issue here is simple, people aren’t like RAM, they can’t just be plugged in and put to work instantaneously. People need to be brought up to speed, they need to be managed, they need somewhere to sit, they need access to things. They come with an overhead that is higher than their value at the beginning.

There are things that you can do to make each of these things easier, but they need building in from the start.

If you add a number of people then you are likely to have to go through the whole forming, storming, norming, performing team development cycle all over again.

Even if people were like RAM, you still don’t come for free, adding one person to a team doesn’t add one person’s worth of value, it adds more overhead to the management processes taking away value elsewhere.

Then there is the final, and probably the most significant issue, people are all different – different skills, different capabilities, different relationships. Adding the right person can make things better, but it’s unlikely that you have access to this person, if you did they would already be working on it. More often than not, the people you are talking about adding are the spare people. The spare people are definitely not the ones you want, they are likely to be spare for a reason.

If you still don’t believe me read The Mythical Man Month it was first published in 1975, but the wisdom contained within it still applies today.

(For those of you know me, yes this book is why I keep going on and on about Conceptual Integrity)

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