Niccolò Machiavelli is famous for saying things like:
“At this point one may note that men must be either pampered or annihilated. They avenge light offenses; they cannot avenge severe ones; hence, the harm one does to a man must be such as to obviate any fear of revenge”
I will let you be the judge of whether that is good advice for project managers, but he is certainly a source of inspiration if you want to set up your own crime gang or evil crew of super-heroes.
However, I do think some of the things that Machiavelli commented on are useful in modern projects.
One of his lesser know observations was on the difference between “Dukes and Courtiers”.
- Each Prince, Machiavelli noted, is likely to have a bunch of Dukes and Courtiers reporting to him and these two roles are distinctly different.
- Dukes run their own mini-fiefdom on behalf of the prince. They make many day-to-day decisions and are in most ways mini-princes. In fact the duke will do well if he (or she I guess these days) sends in lots of taxes to the prince and generally maintains good order (and its probably best not to rebel or attack the Prince).
- Courtiers hang out in the palace and join committees and according to the movies I have seen, they chat girls up and indulge in lots of politics. But they also provide direct advice to the prince and also work with him to run the complex day to day matters of the kingdom or principality. As far as I can tell they should be (less evil) versions or the characters in the TV series “The Tudors”.
So Machiavelli is probably a good source of inspiration for period pieces, but how does it apply to going live with an agile project?
Continue reading “Going live on agile projects – where is Machiavelli when you need him?”