I was cleaning out files on my computer and came across this old article I wrote. Maybe I've already posted it, but a Google search for "conundrums site:gamedevblog.com" didn't come up with anything.
Anyhow, here's the article:
It seems that every project management platitude out there has its converse out there as well. To wit:
"People Should Have Their Own Offices" – Steve McConnell
The argument being knowledge workers need long periods of undistracted time in order to accomplish thought-intensive tasks.
"People Should All Be In One Big War-Room" - http://184.108.40.206/search?q=cache:nlRWO_hsyFUC:daffy.doc.stu.mmu.ac.uk/bsc/subhanis/+war+room+software+engineering+study&hl=en&ie=UTF-8
The argument being that communication is essential and therefore everyone should be able to always talk to everyone else.
"Optimistic Schedules Are Bad" – Steve McConnell
The argument being that to achieve an overly optimistic schedule you engage in risky and shoddy workmanship, creating a massive bug list that ends up lengthening your schedule beyond what it originally would have been before you got "aggressive."
"Optimistic Schedules Are Good" – Steve Maguire, Jim McCarthy
Steve's argument being that tasks take the amount of time allotted for them; to make sure they take as little as possible, create an impossible schedule and rest secure in the knowledge that everyone is getting everything done "as soon as possible."
Jim's argument, from Software For Your Head, is that there are no shortages of resources; only shortages of resourcefulness. I guess we could paraphrase him by saying necessity is the mother of invention.
And In Conclusion That Is What I Have Said
I'm sure there are more examples of these. In these cases, I think there are solutions where a kind of synergy between both arguments can be developed: for the offices question, we could have a central war room ringed with private offices; "your" computer is in the war-room, but when you need privacy, you can borrow one of the private offices. (I've never heard of anyone actually trying this.) An amusing side note is that on most teams (including the ones I've worked on) we do the exact wrong thing: the people who are actually doing the work are in cubicle farms or share offices, where they get maximum distraction and very little communication, whereas the leads – who should be doing most of the communicating and less actual work – get their own private offices.
And with scheduling, you can use the method from Critical Chain and Slack: schedule deliverables aggressively but have a fat safety buffer at the end of the project. In a way, the industry already does this and calls it 'alpha', although we supposedly do it as a time to fix bugs (which encourages sloppiness, IMO.)