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Garden Leave

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Written by Jim Crear

It is an interesting phrase, “Garden Leave.” But its meaning is not a pleasant term about working at home in your garden. Rather, it used by some for making someone redundant or terminating theiremployment. Official definition: “Garden Leave” is the term given to a situation whereby an employee is required by the employer to remain away from work to serve out a period of notice at home (or “in the garden”).

This is what happened to CTO John Linwood at the BBC for a project called Digital Media Initiative (DMI) for the media business that cost £100 million and was shut down. This was a project that was in place and was already deemed in trouble prior to Linwood accepting the position at the BBC. Linwood pulled it from Siemens and brought it in-house, with a refund of £27.5 million. Upon project DMI being shut down Linwood was sacked for gross misconduct and the project’s failure despite all of the praise and successful things he had done for the BBC. Others were quick to point the finger and get the monkey off their backs.

However, Linwood fought back vigorously. He retained a solicitor and went through a process with appeals and an Employment Tribunal to prove he was unfairly sacked. Labor laws in the U.K. are very precise. It’s a long story, too long for this blog, but he won his case. It’s all about good documentation of events, as well as proving a conspiracy within the BBC to put the sole blame on him.

The point is that it was a classic breach of the teachings of the Standish Group and the CHAOS Chronicles. There was low user involvement, with conflicting priorities. There was a constant change in management. There was no executive sponsorship, and when they had an executive sponsor he never attended meetings—one of the “seven deadly sins,” abstinence. Linwood flagged the project red but was told to push on (more deadly sins of arrogance and overambition). When things were falling apart a plan was put in place with “fraudulence” (yet another deadly sin).

When will we ever learn that projects like DMI have a low chance of returning value? On the other hand, would you like to achieve portfolio nirvana? One of the definitions of nirvana is the freedom of pain and worry. This is the concept behind our Value Portfolio Optimization and Management Service. Our Value Portfolio Optimization and Management Service is a forward-thinking and predictive visualization of the value of your software investments. One of the major parts of this service is breaking down large projects into micro-projects with rapid delivery. By focusing your project portfolio on value with rapid delivery, our service frees your organization to create value.

Our next CHAOS Tuesday is titled “Modernization in Place.” This is the first part of an eight-part series on modernizing legacy applications. For more information on this program, click on this event link.

Last Week’s PM2GO Advice Posts

Confessions of a Serial Entrepreneur: is a book review by Jim Johnson.

Measurements: The Standish Group suggests that a successful project completion is contingent upon reaching specified goals.

Clear Business Objectives: Richard Soley says, “I think having a clear business objective is one of those phrases that is overused.”

Edification: Overview: The Standish Group suggests executive sponsorship begins with basic education on the project management process.

Chief Enabling Officer: Gloria Larson suggests that an executive sponsor be a Chief Enabling Officer.


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