The Mayan Legend of the First Project and Status Report

2014. január 13. - Kriminalhauptmeister Harry

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As it is widely known, the ancient Maya civilization was highly advanced in the areas of astronomy, mathematics and architecture. Wonderful religious and civil buildings still standing today show the once great glory of Mayan scientists. The famed Mayan calendar even features information about when to expect the next Apocalypse, which beats all calendar applications on the Android market AND the Apple AppStore. Above all this, latest discoveries in the Mexican jungle have shown that besides mathematics and astronomy, Mayas were also masters of project management.

Scientists have lately made a groundbreaking discovery by finding the temple of Qwertycoathl, the God of Great But Sometimes Not Really Successful Endeavors. The amazing building stands 50 meters tall, and consists of multiple smaller and larger rooms. Larger ones were used for work, whereas smaller ones were fitted with ancient cocoa devices and served as social meeting points for workers making pauses between work sessions. On the top floor, in a large room was dedicated for the most honored priests of the god Qwertycoathl, called "Xekutive Deirecotorath": in this very room have scientist found breathtaking ornaments on the walls telling the most important origin stories concerning the feared deity.

One of the most exciting of these stories is the one telling the tale of the cunning Qwertycoathl standing up to the impossible challenge of Itzamna, the Creator of the Universe. Our experts from D&H Project Management Blog have been among the privileged scientists working on the deciphering of this finding: we now publish the legend in full extent due to its importance in project management history.

The Legend of the First Project and Status Reports

Mayan legend, around 800 A.D.

In the ancient times the Earth was young and Itzamna, the Great Creator has just created the first men. These men were wandering the Earth, hunting animals, drinking the rivers, but had no idea about the Great Creator and the other gods.

So Itzamna though to himself: "It is not all right that these people are ignorant and blind about the gods. I shall now choose one of them and give him a task that will teach them a lesson."

And so Itzamna descended from the heavens in the form of a Great Eagle with Purple Head, and found the people  doing nothing, but wandering around trying to figure out the basic rules for the game which would later be called soccer.

He asked those people: "Who is the bravest and smartest one of you?"

And the people replied: "It is Qwertycoathl, the Bold and Smart."

"Step aside, Qwertycoathl, for I have a challenge for you. You people are ignorant of the ways of the gods, and therefore a lesson must be taught to you to learn how to respect and worship us!"

"What is your challenge, I fear it not!" - said the brave Qwertycoathl and stood forth.

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"A bold one you are indeed" - so spoke Itzamna - "and boldness you shall need, for the task I give you is the following: build me a Temple of marble and gold that is as high as 100 llamas placed on top of each other in no more than seven days, as a display of my infinite glory! If you succeed, I will grant you a prize beyond imagination, but if you fail, I will wipe you and all humanity off the face of the Earth forever, and substitute them with talking mushrooms!"

Qwertycoathl the Brave wasted no time and started to work tirelessly: collected stones, cut them to size, started to put them on top of each other to build the Great Temple. Night and day he had worked for three entire days, but only with the base of the foundation was he done. No matter how hard he worked, the Temple stood not as high as 100 llamas, not even as high as 50 llamas, but only as high as three hedgehogs. 

The Hero Qwertycoathl was brave, but not stupid: soon he saw that this task could not be accomplished within seven days. He sat down, and started to think, but nothing came to his mind. He almost started to cry in his desperation, when all of a sudden he heard wings fluttering above his head.

A raven sat on a tree branch above him, and asked him:

"Why the long nose, Brave Qwertycoathl?"

"The Great Creator Itzamna has given me the impossible challenge of building a Temple for him in seven days, a Temple of marble and gold that stands as high as 100 llamas put on top of each other. I have taken the challenge, but after three days I see that I cannot accomplish this. Soon, the seven days will be over, he will come and see my failure and destroy all humanity, probably along with my chili plantations."

"Despair not, Hero, for I know how to turn your failure into success!" - said the cunning raven.

"But how could you help? There are only four days left, and even a thousand men could not build the Temple!"

"We will not build faster, nor will the Temple be ready on time. But we will cloud the eyes of the Great Creator so, that he sees not what really is, but what we want him to see!"

"How is this miracle possible? How can we deceit a Great God?" - asked Qwertycoathl with curiosity.

"First of all, we will not let him come to us to see how we stand, but we will go to him to tell about it. Second, we will not call this building the Temple any longer, but call this a project."

"What is a project, oh clever raven? I have never heard of such a thing before."

"Neither has he, but the Great Itzamna in his endless pride would never admit not knowing something and will not ask about is. Send me to him as a messenger, and I will report him on this project, blind his eyes until you really finish with your task."

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And so on the fourth day the clever bird flew to the heavens to the Great Creator Itzamna. The raven told him about significant progress on the project, and how they expect to be ready on time. And the Great God was pleased with what he had heard, although he really had no idea what a project was.

The raven came the next day again, telling about a necessary cutting of the project into phases where they would first reach the height of 100 earthworms, then 100 chickens, and then the requested 100 llamas later. After all, the number 100 was what really mattered in the project, explained the raven. Itzamna was again satisfied for what the raven had said sounded like a great plan.

Then the sixth day came, when the raven reported about minor unforeseen and unavoidable factors that would just shift the deadline from the seventh day's morning to the seventh day's evening. On the seventh day's morning he told about changes in the implementation environment, and asked for one more day of delay from the Mercyful Itzamna. The next day he told about resource allocation problems due to underestimation, and asked for yet another tiny delay. The ninth day came, then the tenth, twenty, thirty, hundred days had passed, but the Great Itzamna was still satisfied with the project's progress, because the raven's charming words always seemed to make perfect sense.

After 243 days, the temple finally stood ready and the raven could bring the long-awaited good news to the Great Creator, who wanted to see the result immediately.

"A brilliant Temple indeed" - said Itzamna after walking around the amazing building, which stood 100 llamas high and was shining blindingly in the sun. - "Even though it has not been finished in seven days, the project went well, and the Temple is to my liking. As such, I shall not eradicate humanity, but grant you godly powers Qwertycoathl. You shall sit on my side and serve me as God of Projects and Reporting from now on, regardless of whatever projects are."

"Thank you, Great God" - answered Qwertycoathl - "From now on, all endeavors of humanity with possible delays will be called projects, and no project shall be made without project reports!"

And so was the first project saved by the first project reports. Qwertycoathl the Brave became immortal and took his righteous place among the gods, as ruler of all Endeavors Possibly Failing or Being Significantly Delayed, may his glory shine forever.

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