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Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies: Understanding Patterns of Project Behavior by Tim Lister, Peter Hruschka, Steve McMenamin, Tom DeMarco, James Robertson, Suzanne Robertson

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6. Referred Pain

The project solves the apparent problem but fails to address its underlying cause.

Referred pain is a term used to describe the condition whereby pain is manifest in parts of the body other than the location of the source. For example, spinal injuries are felt in places other than the spine. Sciatica is a case in point: The patient feels pain in the leg, yet the problem is a prolapsed disc pressing on a nerve in the spinal canal. You can treat the leg as much as you want, but the pain will persist—its underlying cause lies elsewhere. Similarly, a person who suffers a heart attack usually feels referred pain in the left arm. Treating the arm will do nothing to save the patient’s life.

There is a tendency when forming projects ...

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