The Team is Integral to the Strategy


You can’t compensate for incompetance with prayer, luck, stubbornness, or waiting until your presidency is over, either. Demotivational poster from

I read an article recently that pointed out that when members of Congress voted in 2003 to authorize Bush to invade Iraq, they were voting not just for war with Iraq, but specifically for the Bush Administration to manage and wage that war.

Most liberal hawks are willing to admit only that they made a mistake in trusting the president and his team to administer the invasion and occupation competently. … The New Republic’s Leon Wieseltier added, “I think that it is impossible, even for someone who supported the war, or especially for someone who did, not to feel very bitter about the way it has been conducted and the way it has been explained.”

Now, more than three years after “Mission Accomplished”, the Administration has proven itself to almost everyone regardless of party that they are incompetant at war management. In fact, they’ve not shown competance at much of anything big or important (except, of course, elections).

After the prescription-drug plan rollout stumble, the Katrina rescue fiasco, the lost trail for Osama bin Laden, and of course the actual Iraq War itself, this incompetance is now especially clear. But even back in 2003 it should already have been apparent to most observers (especially to liberal hawks) that the Bush Administration just wasn’t likely to do the job well.

This phenomenon struck me as something that web consultants deal with all the time. When we design web sites, we design them to be used by the end users and by our clients. If our clients use offshore programming teams to manage their IT services, if their web maintenance staff is lean and mean or even non-existent, if key content stakeholders lack basic computer skills, if they are stronger in one technology versus another — then it is our obligation as consultants to cater our recommendations to their particular strengths and their weaknesses. We cannot recommend an ambitous solution requiring a team of top-notch experts if the client simply doesn’t have the team to support it.

Just an observation… And, dear clients, please forgive the unfortunate parallel with the Bush Administration! You are far more competant at just about everything.


6 responses to “The Team is Integral to the Strategy”

  1. Very true. When setting out goals for a project I like to refer to what I call “The Golden Triangle” (cheezy I know) where you’ve got businness, audience (user) and organizational goals, risks, etc.

    That thrid part, the organizational part, covers goals and risks pertaining to things like maintenance, stakeholder skill level, etc.

    I will admit that it’s the easiest part to over look…

  2. george w Avatar
    george w

    I sometimes wonder what you lefties are going to do when you no longer have W to blame all the world’s troubles on! When you have to face all the nasties in the world and do your best to meet them, with all the world watching and everything on the line. You miserable pissants hide behind keyboards and act as though you matter. You are as ephemeral as ant piss.

  3. “george w”: Who’s the one hiding behind a keyboard: me speaking out a coherent and clear opinion with my real name on a public blog.. or you, Mr. Anonymous with your undecypherable sentence fragments and no actual counterargument or expressed political opinion of your own (beyond, of course, your negative opinion of “lefties”)? The hypocrisy of that is just mind-boggling, and I’ll bet you don’t even see it.

    Anyway, are you saying that the Bush Administration is good at waging war? That they did a good job managing the Katrina aftermath? That terrorism and the spread of WMDs are in decline? That the prescription drug plan is actually working? That the national deficit is under control? That Americans are more civil to each other now than they were six years ago? That America is more free now than we were six years ago? I think you’ll find an awful lot of Republicans who would disagree with you on all those counts. I know quite a few of them myself.

    I could be wrong, but based on your post I read you as someone whose politics has no clear definition except that you deeply hate skeevy icky liberals, even if it means defending incompetance. You may want to begin instead with a positive objective to your commentary. Yes my post insults the Bush Administration, but the point is not simply to lob an derogatory grenade at the President, but to offer an opinion on how our other elected representatives — liberal and conservative — should work in order to accomplish positive results for America: If you want something done well at a national level, try to have someone control it who doesn’t work for the Bush Administration.

    I sometimes wonder what you lefties are going to do when you no longer have W to blame all the world’s troubles on!

    I dunno. It’s been six years, have you, as a Bush defender, stopped blaming Clinton for the state of the current economy, international affairs, America’s declining values? Have you started to accept that the world we live in today is largely Bush’s making, for better and worse?

  4. I was in a conference call with a client today going over the various CMS tools that are available in their price range. The fact of the matter is that there are no universally easy-to-use and perfect-for-the-project tools ready and waiting to power any project. It blows. In a perfect world we’d have 5 times the budget and just build the thing ourselves.

    The depressing part about this is that we have to sell them on one, and they won’t even begin the learning process on the tool until the site is finished, which means they won’t really know if they made the right choice until we’re done, they’ve paid, and they’re stuck with it. All they have to go off of is demos and slick presentations by people who know exactly how to sell the thing. Even more depressing is that higher-ups have already decided upon the tool, and it is one of the most user-unfriendly and developer unfriendly CMS tools I’ve ever used. I know that – I’ve had to deal with it. The people making the decisions could really care less, it doesn’t impact their everyday lives.

    I don’t know where I’m going with this one – maybe I just had to vent. Oh man, I’m dreading the start of that project.

    Reminds me of our government. Before the whackjobs came into office, I seriously thought we wouldn’t be going to war anymore. What for? We almost had peace in Israel/Palestine. We had Milosevic at the Hague. I know a couple people that joined the military just before the election under the same state of mind. Man, were they dissappointed. None of us thought it could get so bad. It is truly amazing to me that anyone can try to defend this administration and not vomit on themselves.

    Man, this comment really degraded. Sorry ’bout that.

  5. Great post — I must say, I tend to assume that I’m the only one who sees parallels in the bleak client relationship and the current administration. I always assumed I was just paranoid and deeply liberal (sadly, these are almost synonymous these days), but I’m glad that you’re making the connection. Perhaps a few others (george w comes to mind) will use this as a good analogy to understand why so many of us are more scared of our current government than of the “terrists.”

    And for the record, I dislike knee-jerk liberals as much as I dislike knee-jerk conservatives. It’s all this knee-jerking that has gotten us into this mess, and (likewise) it’s all the knee-jerking that gets well-intentioned website rollouts way off-track and dippy. I wish the world still worked at a pace where you could tell everyone involved (government, clients, whatever) to sleep on it. But instant results are cool (okay, they are), so we end up doing a lot of working and re-working for the sake of doing stuff fast. For most of us, this means we bill more and sometimes have to fight for our checks. For the government, it means that some suburb full of people who don’t give a damn about the intricacies of the current crisis gets razed. I prefer the scale we developers operate on, but I do think the same principles apply.

  6. Great observation and analogy Christopher! You are completely right that we should accomodate our solutions to the abilities of our clients team to support the solution. Sadly, I never thought of it this way. For some reason my gung-ho attitude always said, “We suggest hiring on a team to maintain the website”. This little minor shift in thinking changes some future project planning for me.

    BTW, why is it that all conservatives seem to be able to do is act like bullies when ever they are questioned about their motives?