Captain Ahab wildly pursuing the white whale

Paul Vick, a Technical Lead on the VB .NET team at Microsoft, writes entertainingly about black hole projects. One of my more entertaining projects in this vein happened many years ago at a long-defunct software house where the team was simply too inexperienced to realise just what we were taking on. After a couple of failed attempts, we finally admitted defeat, told the customer that it wasn't going to happen, and then did a post-mortem.

Of course, you usually learn much more from a failed project than a successful project. It's part of the rich tapestry of software development, an initiation rite that you need to go through. As a wise project manager told me, just think of it as an FGE - frigging growth experience.

And I love this line from Paul's list of typical black hole project characteristics:

They are usually led by one or more Captain Ahabs, madly pursuing the white whale with absolute conviction, while the deckhands stand around saying "Gee, that whale looks awfully big. I'm not sure we can really take him down."