It’s All in the Delivery – must read!


I just discovered that a very bright lady I once worked with has published a book, “It’s All in the Delivery”. I wanted to take a moment and let my readers know that this book is available from Amazon, and they should run out right now and buy it to support her.

I’ve already ordered it, and to let you all know how excited I am about this book, I’ll tell you a bit about my experience with Debi Brown.

As a former portfolio manager of real-time trading systems and legacy integration projects, I thought I’d seen complex. Then I joined a cheque processing program that blew my notion of complex completely out of the water. This was the program that Debi had taken on…for good or bad, it was her show.

The first thing that impressed me was how quickly she organized the scope. That in itself was a tremendous job…she built a matrix of streams and components, spanning (if memory serves) nine parallel software releases going out three years. I joined the program as a stream lead.

Once we were in the details, it became apparent how many thousands of moving parts were inherent in the program. There was just so…much…work… Every morning I’d drive in to work thinking I had my plan of attack all figured out, and every morning I’d find a new surprise that there was a hardware malfunction, or a piece of code had regressed…things we thought were possible on Monday were lost causes by Tuesday. It just took my breath away.

The end date of the program was government mandated too, so there was no toying with extending the dates. In fact, Debi pushed us to shore up the release dates and get things done faster. Well, let me tell you that almost made my head explode. And cost containment…I think I developed a permanent tic from the sleepless nights thinking about the budget.

Debi Brown

Debi Brown

As spectacularly hairy as the program was, Debi never, ever left her post. I remember how stressed out I was; this lady must have had nerves as hard as diamonds to unflinchingly carry the responsibility she held. That’s point number one: she had the chops.

Point number two: Debi recognized she needed her people. She encouraged us to come up with creative solutions to problems. If we could do that on her own, her endorsements were swift and decisive. There was no trace of micromanagement on her part…to be honest, if there had been, I think the project would have gone straight off the rails.

Point number three: I’m not sure how she did it. When she saw a problem, she would personally do a deep dive into the trouble area. When she came out, not only would she continue to hold the high level aspects of the program in her head, but she would understand every last detail of the problem as well. The breadth and depth of her knowledge was profound.

Point number four, probably the most important: With all the pieces flying around, and stress levels mounting, Debi always held control. She was firm yet resilient. This program demanded a very specific response to rapidly changing conditions. Failure to respond appropriately would likely have meant failure to the program. Debi knew the right response to give to each new set of changing circumstances. That I think is the key to her success, and if there’s any magic to learn from her, it’ll come from that direction.

I could go on, but suffice it to say that Debi’s talents are not something you see every day. This is why I’m excited about Debi’s book. While there are a whole slew of “best practices” out there, and advice on small, minute steps that can be taken to deliver micro aspects of projects, there is very little practical advice on how to deliver a massively complex program like that which Debi owned.

I, for one, am looking forward to reading what Debi has to say, and would encourage aspiring delivery managers to have a read as well. I’ll provide my own review of the book when I’m done here on this blog, and would love to get others’ opinions in the comments section.

Incidentally, for those of you in the Toronto area, Debi Brown has a book signing for “Its All In The Delivery” at Chapters in Newmarket Ontario on February 21st from 2-5. It would be a great chance to meet this fabulous lady!

I’m a professor of project management at the college where I work. My students continually amaze me with their insights, passion and all-around awesomeness. I figure they deserve access to more answers than I can give them by myself. This site is for them.
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My name is Geoff. I write about project management pretty regularly. From time to time, I also make tools and templates to give away.

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