Practically everyone who has been in industry long enough has seen this familiar cartoon, depicting the inadequacies of product design, engineering or customer service, which hung on many cubical walls in the 1970s and 1980s. The origins of this cartoon are uncertain and may date as far back as 1950’s. It was appeared in the context of quality management in 1989 in John Oakland’s book Total Quality Management. You can visit businesballs.com to read more about the history of the tree swing cartoon.
The cartoon shown here dates back to 1972. Forty years ago! A quick history lesson. In 1972, mainframes still dominated the computing space. The first video game – Pong – was just invented, and Bill Gates was busy writing a BASIC interpreter for the first 8-bit microprocessor. It would take another 5 years before Steve Wozniak designed the Apple II.
So even though this cartoon dates back to the stone age of technology, we still use it as a symbol of our project management incompetency and find it funny. Have we not made any progress over the last 40 years? More importantly, can modern software tools, specifically PLM and PDM, make us better planners, designers, engineers?
I have some theories and far fewer solutions to the challenge, which I will share in a future blog post. In the interim, I invite you to share your opinions and ideas.