Closing USFS Roads

Don Baccus dhogaza at
Sun Apr 19 00:10:38 EST 1998

In article <6hbv4p$76f$0 at>, Ann <afsnews at> wrote:

>Essentially, it says that throwing more people at a project that's in
>trouble doesn't work.

Well ... just throwing more people doesn't work.  It also gets into
the phenomena that in most large projects, you can count the people
who are really getting most of the work done in any fundamental
sense on a couple of hands, maybe with feet tossed in.  There's no
economy of scale, just the opposite.  On the other hand, there is
what one might call an economy of genius or skill.  If you can
throw the right one or two people, you might win.  But throwing
more and more bodies doesn't.  He's talking of projects that
require technological advances, to some degree.  In the book,
as I recall (twenty years after reading it), he's doubtful that
tossing more folks at projects ever works but there's been some
progress in this regard in the intervening years, in terms of
tools and management.

Actually, I have a hard time remembering where this book ends and
shall we say my formal education begins?  I think I read it in
high school or very shortly thereafter, it was placed in my hands
almost immediately after it came out.

I've always been a small, bright team person but unfortunately some
projects are inherently big.  Part of the problem with the OS/360
project is that the size of it was to a very large extent an artifact
of the company's size, decentralization of engineering effort, and

The project size evolved to be a good order of magnitude greater than
the problem to be solved warranted.  

Making it an interesting study case for those who believe that private
industry is efficient, while government is not.  It's also an interesting
case for those of us who believe the inherent problem has to do with
organization size and structure - not whether the organization is private
or public.

- Don Baccus, Portland OR <dhogaza at>
  Nature photos, on-line guides, at

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