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A Compendium of Project Management Humor

PM Stuff from CVR/IT and CafePresIn an effort to lighten up my Project Management Training classes, I decided one day to search out a few Project Management jokes on the web. To my surprise, a "few" is all that I could find. It appears that either the world takes Project Managers very seriously (unlikely) or else there just isn't all that much to laugh about (which would be sad). This is something that all Project Managers should pay attention to, especially given this bit of insight:

"Project management will become a recognized profession when jokes are made about the practitioners." --

After extensive research, the following jokes (and the term "joke" is a stretch for a few of them) are all that I can find. If you know of any other humor related to Project Management that I have missed, or if you would like to contribute funny stories from your own experience, PLEASE send it to me at so that I may add it to this page. With PM jokes available in such low numbers, the recognition of our profession may be in danger!

CVR/IT Consulting proudly presents:

Project SN-AFU

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Project SN-AFU is distributed under a Creative Commons license. Everyone is invited to play the game, add to it, change it, and redistribute it anywhere for free. (No commercial use is allowed. See website for details.)

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The Jokes...

Man walks into a...
   The project manager walks into his boss' office and says, "Here is the bottom line budget needed for the success of the project."
The boss says, "What can you do for half the money?"
The project manager says, "Fail."
The boss says, "When can you get started?"
The project manager says, "I think I just did."
-- from

The Genie

Three men: a project manager, a software engineer, and a hardware engineer are helping out on a project. About midweek they decide to walk up and down the beach during their lunch hour. Halfway up the beach, they stumbled upon a lamp. As they rub the lamp a genie appears and says "Normally I would grant you three wishes, but since there are three of you, I will grant you each one wish."

The hardware engineer went first. "I would like to spend the rest of my life living in a huge house in St. Thomas with no money worries." The genie granted him his wish and sent him on off to St. Thomas.

The software engineer went next. "I would like to spend the rest of my life living on a huge yacht cruising the Mediterranean with no money worries." The genie granted him his wish and sent him off to the Mediterranean.

Last, but not least, it was the project manager's turn. "And what would your wish be?" asked the genie. "I want them both back after lunch" replied the project manager.

 -- http://www.workjoke.comm

Best laid Plans - a PM Limerick by Don McAlister, 1/4/98

Your plan said you'd do what you should
And you did the best that you could
But when the going got tough
And it wasn't enough
It was better to be lucky than good

Types of Project Managers; which one are you? --
     If you get in my way, I'll kill you! - ideal project manager
     If you get in my way, you'll kill me! - somewhat less than ideal project manager
     If I get in my way, I'll kill you! - somewhat misguided project manager
     If I get in your way, I'll kill you! - A tough project manager (eats glass, live cats, etc.)
     If get kill in will way I you. - dyslexic, functionally illiterate project manager
     I am the way! Kill me if you can! - messianic project manager
     Get away, I'll kill us all! - suicidal project manager
     If you kill me, I'll get in your way. - thoughtful but ineffective project manager
     If I kill you I'll get in your way. - project manager who has trouble dealing with the obvious
     If a you getta ina my way, I gonna breaka you arm. - project manager from New York
     I am quite confident that there is nothing in the way, so no one will get killed. - project manager who is about to get in big trouble
     If you kill me, so what? If you get in my way, who cares? - weak, uninspired, lackluster project manager
     If I kill me, you'll get your way. - pragmatic project manager
     If we get in each other's way, who will get killed? - An utterly confused manager
     Kill me, it's the only way. - every project manager to date.

High Flying PM

A man is flying in a hot air balloon and realizes he is lost. He reduces height and spots a man down below. He lowers the balloon further and shouts:

"Excuse me, can you help me? I promised my friend. I would meet him half an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The man below says, "Yes, you are in a hot air balloon, hovering approximately 30 feet above this field. You are between 40 and 42 degrees North latitude, and between 58 and 60 degrees West longitude."

"You must be a programmer," says the balloonist.

"I am," replies the man. "How did you know?"

"Well," says the balloonist, "everything you have told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I am still lost."

The man below says, "You must be a project manager"

"I am," replies the balloonist, "but how did you know?"

"Well," says the man, "you don't know where you are or where you are going. You have made a promise which you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. The fact is you are in the exact same position you were in before we met, but now it is somehow my fault."


PM Mechanic

A project manager, hardware engineer and software engineer were in a car heading down a hill when the brakes failed. The driver managed to get it stopped by using the gears and a convenient dirt track.

All three jumped out and after peering under the car the hardware engineer said, "I see what the problem is and with this handy roll of duct tape I think I can fix it good enough to get us to the next town". The project manager quickly interrupted, "No, no, no. Before we do anything we need to decide on a vision for our future, figure out a plan and assign individual deliverables". At which point the software engineer said, "You know what, I think we should push the car back up to the top of the hill and see if it happens again".


The Glass
To the optimist, the glass is half full. To the pessimist, the glass is half empty. To the project manager, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

Project Management Stuff
Project Management Stuff - get it here!

A clergyman, a doctor and a project manager were playing golf together one day and were waiting for a particularly slow group ahead. The project manager exclaimed, "What's with these people? We've been waiting over half and hour! It's a complete disgrace."

The doctor agreed, "They're hopeless, I've never seen such a rabble on a golf course."

The clergyman spotted the approaching greenkeeper and asked him what was going on, "What's happening with that group ahead of us? They're surely too slow and useless to be playing, aren't they?"

The greenkeeper replied, "Oh, yes, that's a group of blind fire-fighters. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime."

The three golfers fell silent for a moment. The clergyman said, "Oh dear, that's so sad. I shall say some special prayers for them tonight." The doctor added, rather meekly, "That's a good thought. I'll get in touch with an ophthalmic surgeon friend of mine to see if there's anything that can be done for them."

After pondering the situation for a few seconds, the project manager turned to the greenkeeper and asked, "Why can't they play at night?"


The Frog
A project manager was out walking in the countryside one day when a frog called out to him. He bent down, picked up the frog and put it in his pocket. The frog poked its head out of his pocket and said, "Hey, if you kiss me I'll turn me back into a beautiful princess, and I'll stay with you for a week as your mistress."

The project manager took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it, and put it back into his pocket.

The frog called out once more, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I'll stay with you for as long as you wish and do absolutely anything that you want." Again the Project manager took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and put it back.

Finally, the frog demanded, "What's the matter? You can turn me back into a beautiful princess, and I'll stay with you for ever and do anything you want. Why won't you kiss me?"

The project manager replied, "Understand, I'm a project manager. I simply don't have time for a girlfriend. But a talking frog...that's cool."


Top 10 Reasons NOT to Use Project Management
10.Our customers really love us, so they don't care if our products are late and don't work.
9.Organizing to manage projects isn't compatible with our culture, and the last thing we need around this place is change.
8.All our projects are easy, and they don't have cost, schedule, and technical risks anyway.
7.We aren't smart enough to implement project management without stifling creativity and offending our technical geniuses.
6.We might have to understand our customers' requirements and document a lot of stuff, and that is such a bother.
5.Project management requires integrity and courage, so they would have to pay me extra.
4.Our bosses won't provide the support needed for project management; they want us to get better results through magic.
3.We'd have to apply project management blindly to all projects regardless of size and complexity, and that would be stupid.
2.I know there is a well-developed project management body of knowledge, but I can't find it under this mess on my desk.
1.We figure it's more profitable to have 50% overruns than to spend 10% on project management to fix them.

The Tire Swing (click to see full size)
click to see full size!
See also to create your own version of this classic.

Great Planning (click to see full size)
You may not get this right away. Give it a minute.

click to see full size!

Too many meetings (click to see full size)

Finally! Meetings get a purpose (other than boredom).
click to see full size!

Rules of Project Management

Get PM Stuff Here!
Get fun PM Stuff from CafePress and CVR / IT
  • It takes one woman nine months to have a baby. It cannot be done in one month by nine women.
  • Nothing is impossible for the person who doesn't have to do it.
  • You can con a sucker into committing to an impossible deadline, but you cannot con him into meeting it.
  • At the heart of every large project is a small project trying to get out.
  • The more desperate the situation the more optimistic the situatee.
  • A problem shared is a buck passed.
  • A change freeze is like the abominable snowman: it is a myth and would melt anyway when heat is applied.
  • A user will tell you anything you ask, but nothing more.
  • Of several possible interpretations of a communication, the least convenient is the correct one.
  • What you don't know hurts you.
  • There's never enough time to do it right first time but there's always enough time to go back and do it again.
  • The bitterness of poor quality lasts long after the sweetness of making a date is forgotten.
  • I know that you believe that you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realise that what you heard is not what I meant.
  • What is not on paper has not been said.
  • A little risk management saves a lot of fan cleaning.
  • If you can keep your head while all about you are losing theirs, you haven't understood the plan.
  • If at first you don't succeed, remove all evidence you ever tried.
  • Feather and down are padding, changes and contingencies will be real events.
  • There are no good project managers - only lucky ones.
  • The more you plan the luckier you get.
  • A project is one small step for the project sponsor, one giant leap for the project manager.
  • Good project management is not so much knowing what to do and when, as knowing what excuses to give and when.
  • If everything is going exactly to plan, something somewhere is going massively wrong.
  • Everyone asks for a strong project manger - when they get one, they don't want one.
  • Overtime is a figment of the naive project manager's imagination.
  • Quantitative project management is for predicting cost and schedule overruns well in advance.
  • The sooner you begin coding the later you finish.
  • Metrics are learned men's excuses.
  • For a project manager, overruns are as certain as death and taxes.
  • Some projects finish on time in spite of project management best practices.
  • Fast - cheap - good - you can have any two.
  • There is such a thing as an unrealistic timescale.
  • The project would not have been started if the truth had been told about the cost and timescale.
  • A two-year project will take three years; a three-year project will never finish.
  • When the weight of the project paperwork equals the weight of the project itself, the project can be considered complete.
  • A badly planned project will take three times longer than expected - a well-planned project only twice as long as expected.
  • Warning: dates in a calendar are closer than they appear to be.
  • Anything that can be changed will be changed until there is no time left to change anything.
  • There is no such thing as scope creep, only scope gallop.
  • A project gets a year late one day at a time.
  • If you're 6 months late on a milestone due next week but really believe you can make it, you're a project manager.
  • No project has ever finished on time, within budget, to requirements.
  • Yours won't be the first to.
  • Activity is not achievement.
  • Managing IT people is like herding cats.
  • If you don't know how to do a task, start it, then ten people who know less than you will tell you how to do it.
  • If you don't plan, it doesn't work. If you do plan, it doesn't work either. Why plan!
  • The person who says it will take the longest and cost the most is the only one with a clue how to do the job.
  • The sooner you get behind schedule, the more time you have to make it up.
  • The nice thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression.
  • Good control reveals problems early - which only means you'll have longer to worry about them.


The technically astute Project Manager   -- a True Story...

Scene: Project meeting, conducted by telephone.
Project Manager: How large is the user file?
Me: Right now it's about 4K, but it will grow as you add users.
PM: How much can you fit in 4K?
ME (trying to make it easy): About 4,000 characters.
PM: No, no, son! I mean how many lower case characters can you fit?
ME (puzzled): About 4,000?
PM: And how many upper case characters?
ME (unable to resist): You can fit about 4,000 lower case characters or 1 upper case character.
PM: See? You need a much larger data file.
ME: Yes, sir.

And you thought this only happened in Dilbert strips!


How Projects Are Born

Programmer to Module Leader:
"This is not possible. **Impossible**. It will involve design change and no body in our team knows the design of the system. And above that nobody in our company knows the language in which this software has been written. So even if somebody wants to work on it, they can't. If you ask my personal opinion the company should never take these type of projects."

Module Leader to Project Manager:
"This project will involve design change. Currently we don't have people who have experience in this type of work. Also the language is unknown so we will have to arrange for some training if we take this project. In my personal opinion, we should avoid taking this project."

Project Manager to 1st Level Manager:
"This project involves design change in the system and we don't have much experience in that area. Also not many people are trained in this area. In my personal opinion we can take the project but we should ask for some more time."

1st Level Manager to 2nd Level Manager:
"This project involves design re-engineering. We have some people who have worked in this area and some who know the language. So they can train other people. In my personal opinion we should take this project but with caution."

2nd Level Manager to CEO:
"This project will show the industry our capabilities in remodeling the design of a complete system. We have all the necessary skills and people to execute this project successfully. Some people have already given in-house training in this area to other people. In my personal opinion we should not let this project go by under any circumstance."

CEO to Client:
"These are the type of projects in which our company specialize. We have executed many project of the same nature for many big clients. Trust me when I say that you are in the safest hand in the Industry. In my personal opinion we can execute this project successfully and that too well with in the given time frame."


The Pet Store

A man walks into a pet store, and he wants to buy a monkey. He looks at the first monkey and, well, the monkey looks normal, he's doing normal monkey things, and the guy asks, "How much for this monkey?"
The store manager replies "$5000."
The guy says, "$5000? Are you kidding? That's daylight robbery!"
The store manager explains: "You see, this is a programmer monkey. He knows a little bit of VB6."
The guy continues to look around, and notices another monkey doing really interesting hoops in his cage. Clearly this is a very bright monkey. The guy asks, "Well then how much for this one?"
The store manager replies, "$10000"
The guy is flabbergasted. "Wow, you really are kidding me this time!"
The store manager explains: "You see, this monkey can do C#, Java, AND C++. He's a really smart monkey."
So the guy decides that he needs to aim lower, and keeps looking around until he notices a really dull monkey who is really not doing anything, just sitting in a corner, obviously quite low IQ. The guy thinks to himself, this monkey is more my speed, I think ... He asks, "OK, how much for this one?"
The store manager replies, "Oh this monkey is $50,000."
The guy yells back, "GIVE ME A BREAK! What is so great about this monkey?"
The store manager explains: "Well, I'm not sure, he just sits around all day, does nothing, and calls himself a project manager."


Immutable Laws of Project Management

  1. No major project is ever completed on time, within budget, with the same staff that started it, nor does the project do what it is supposed to do. It is highly unlikely that yours will be the first.
     a. The benefits will be smaller than initially estimated, if estimates were made at all.
     b. The system finally installed will be completed late and will not do what it is supposed to do.
     c. It will cost more but will be technically successful.
  2. One advantage of fuzzy project objectives is that they let you avoid embarrassment in estimating the corresponding costs.
  3. The effort required to correct a project that is off course increases geometrically with time.
     a. The longer you wait, the harder it gets.
     b. If you wait until the project is completed, its too late.
     c. Do it now regardless of the embarrassment.
  4. The project purpose statement you wrote and understand will be seen differently by everyone else.
     a. If you explain the purpose so clearly that no one could possibly misunderstand, someone will.
     b. If you do something that you are sure will meet everyone's approval, someone will not like it.
  5. Measurable benefits are real. Intangible benefits are not measurable, thus intangible benefits are not real.
    Corollary: Intangible benefits are real if you can prove that they are real.
  6. Anyone who can work effectively on a project part-time certainly does not have enough to do now.
     a. If a boss will not give a worker a full-time job, you shouldn't either.
     b. If the project participant has a time conflict, the work given by the full-time boss will not suffer.
  7. The greater the project's technical complexity, the less you need a technician to manage it.
     a. Get the best manager you can. The manager will get the technicians.
     b. The reverse of corollary 1 is almost never true.
  8. A carelessly planned project will take three times longer to complete than expected. A carefully planned project will only take twice as long.
    Corollary: If nothing can possibly go wrong, it will anyway.
  9. When the project is going well, something will go wrong.
     a. When things cannot get any worse, they will.
     b. When things appear to be going better, you have overlooked something.
  10. Project teams detest weekly progress reporting because it so vividly manifests their lack of progress.
  11. Projects progress rapidly until they are 90 percent complete. Then they remain 90 percent complete forever.
  12. If project content is allowed to change freely, the rate of change will exceed the rate of progress.
  13. If the user does not believe in the system, a parallel system will be developed. Neither system will work very well.
  14. Benefits achieved are a function of the thoroughness of the post-audit check.
    Corollary: The prospect of an independent post-audit provides the project team with a powerful incentive to deliver a good system on schedule within budget.
  15. No law is immutable.


Project Management Knowledge
Question: When do we really know how long it will take to complete the project?
Answer: After we are done!

IBM Project Management Axiom
The need for project modifications increases proportionally to project completion.

How Done Are You?
PM Stuff from CVR/IT and CafePress The first 90 percent of a project schedule takes 90 percent of the time.
The last 10 percent takes the other 90 percent of the time.

The Salesman
Question: "What is the difference between a project manager and a used car salesman?"
The answer: "The used car salesman always knows when he is lying."

More on Frogs
Project Management is like pushing a wheelbarrow of frogs to market.

Genesis of Failure

In the beginning was THE PLAN.
And then came The Assumptions.
And The Plan was without substance.
And The Assumptions were without form.
And darkness was upon the face of the Workers.

And they spoke among themselves, saying,
"It is a crock of s--t, it stinks."
And the workers went unto their Supervisors, and said,
"It is a pail of dung, and none may abide the odour thereof."

And the Supervisors went unto their Managers, saying
"It is a container of excrement, and it is very strong,
such that none may abide it."

And the Managers went unto their Directors, saying,
"It is a vessel of fertiliser, and none may abide its strength."

And the Directors spoke among themselves saying one to another,
"It contains that which aids plant growth, and it is very strong."

And the Directors went to the Vice-Presidents, saying unto them,
"It promotes growth, and it is very powerful."

And the Vice-Presidents went to the President, saying unto him,
"This new plan will actively promote the growth and vigour of the company, with powerful effects."

And the President looked upon The Plan, and saw that it was good.
And The Plan became policy.

And that is how S--t happens."

Improvements on Beating a Dead Horse

The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that "When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount." However, in many organizations a range of far more advanced strategies are often employed, such as:

  • Buying a stronger whip
  • Changing riders
  • Saying things like, "This is the way we have always ridden this horse."
  • Appointing a committee to study the horse
  • Arranging to visit other sites to see how others ride dead horses
  • Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included
  • Appointing a tiger team to revive the dead horse
  • Sending riders to training sessions to improve riding ability
  • Comparing the state of dead horses in today's environment
  • Changing the requirements to declare that "This horse is not dead."
  • Declaring that "No horse is too dead to beat."
  • Reclassifying the dead horse as "living impaired"
  • Doing a Cost Analysis study to see if contractors can ride the horse more cheaply.
  • Purchasing a product that claims to make dead horses run faster
  • Hiring an outside contractor to ride the dead horse
  • Harnessing several dead horses together to increase the speed
  • Providing additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse's performance
  • Forming a quality circle to find uses for dead horses
  • Saying "This horse was procured with cost as an independent variable."
  • Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse's performance
  • Declaring that the horse is "better, faster and cheaper" dead (i.e. as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead, and therefore contributes substantially more to the mission of the organisation than do some other horses)
  • Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses
  • Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position...


Problems in Project Management: Communication
Why the military services have trouble communicating.

General Joe Whigham is ordered by the Secretary of Defense to gather together a Navy Lieutenant and Captains from the Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force to discover why the services have trouble communicating with each other. He begins by saying that their first project task is to "secure" a certain building, and asks each of them to go home and prepare a list of steps for the project management plan and bring them to the meeting the next morning.

The Navy Lieutenant calls his Master Chief and says "Tell those swabs to:
-- Unplug the coffeepots
-- Turn off the computers
-- Turn out the lights
-- Lock the doors and leave the building unoccupied"

The Army Captain has his list in his notepad:
-- Assemble the company
-- Appoint guard mount and Sergeant of the Guard
-- Take control of all exits
-- Make sure no one gets into the building without a pass

The Marine Corps Captain writes down her steps on palm of her hand:
-- Assemble the platoon and supplies
-- Approach the building along three axes
-- Bring the building under mortar and SAW fire
-- Assault the building under covering fire
-- Sequester surviving prisoners
-- Establish lanes of fire
-- Prepare artillery calls
-- Repel counterattacks

The Air Force Captain types his list into his laptop:
-- Contact real estate agent
-- Negotiate 1-year lease
-- Be sure to get option to buy


Project Management Code Words

Average blended, fully-loaded rate I don't have any idea what the average rate is, so I'm making up a number and declaring it to be correct. Since no one else has any idea either, it is unlikely that I'll get caught.
How much will the project cost? I need an estimate. I need a number that I can nail you with later when the project fails.
How much will the project cost? I need a good estimate ...and make it cheap.
The project is green The project is red but we'll have that fixed in no time. Besides, if I report red that would make the VP look bad.
The project is yellow The project is red and I can't hide it entirely, so I'll say yellow. If the real status ever gets out it will cost me my job.
The project is red It's a good thing I have that job interview tomorrow.
Critical Path Quickest route to the outhouse
Privity See Critical Path

-- from CVR/IT Consulting

More sources of PM Humor

In addition to the above, the following sites have humorous material of interest to Project Managers:

I hope you have enjoyed this page. Please email your favorite Project Management jokes to so that they can be added to the Compendium.

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