Sunday, July 24, 2011

How to avoid obstacles

This new Humvee has a chimney that directs some of the explosive impact of a bomb
Project management is all about dealing with obstacles. If management knew there were no obstacles to the chunk of work they're giving you, it would be called 'ongoing operations.' But that's not the case. They have some kind of challenge, can't figure out how to do it within operations, so they wrap it up and call it a project. Then they give it to you. They won't tell you this when they give you the project but I can guarantee you that there are plenty of obstacles ahead of you.

What separates great project managers from mediocre ones is what they do when they are faced with an obstacle. If they stop, turn around and look for management to tell them how to deal with the obstacle, they won't succeed. The great project managers will go around the obstacle, over the obstacle, under the obstacle or through the obstacle. And they'll keep doing this with all the obstacles they find until the project is successful.

Yesterday I found a new way to deal with obstacles: let the obstacle go right through you.

Look at what Humvee did when they found that their trucks were vulnerable to the roadside bombs and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan and Iraq. Other manufacturers have tried beefing up the armor plating or used V-shaped undercarriages to deflect the explosive blast. Humvee has installed a 'chimney' that directs the force of the explosion right through the vehicle and out the top.

A defence department blast test.
Look at the explosion exiting the chimney and the way the V-shaped undercarriage directs other parts of the blast away from the inhabitants.

For more details, read the Times article. I love how they were inspired by things like the fibers that link surf-boarders to kite sails and rock-climbing devices to solve a problem that is the biggest killer of American troops.

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