How many project managers are needed to change a lightbulb?

P.S. Guys, it is April Fool's Day, so don't be so serious with "off-topic" ;-) I will delete this question tomorrow.

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    follow up question: How many project mangers are needed to delete a question? – DrewJordan Apr 1 '16 at 13:15
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    Gratz on making the "Hot Network Questions" list! :) I vote to keep the question open and see what responses are gathered from the internet at large. – Marv Mills Apr 1 '16 at 14:45
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    OMG. Please, can we get an allowance and NOT delete this? Great post for April Fool's, and I'd hate to lose the great responses! :) – Jim Holmes Apr 1 '16 at 22:55
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    I agree, let's not delete. Kind of proof that project managers are people too. I've found that humor is a vital tool in my tool box. Could not have gotten through many projects without it. – Joel Bancroft-Connors Apr 1 '16 at 23:48
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    @mods, How about lock the question with reason: historical significance? – OldBunny2800 Apr 2 '16 at 21:18

13 Answers 13


There is no change request for the prior lightbulb; the change from "lit" to "dark" was not authorized.

I have tasked the team from seven parallel lines to perform an root cause analysis and produce an Ishikawa diagram. They have had to replace the lead tech who apparently tried to assault the project manager with a chair.

A second team has been authorized to review our process diagrams to determine who authorized the light bulb to go dark. They have outlined a comprehensive strategy that will incorporate both a historical analysis of the light/dark status of similar light bulbs, consultation with internal and external industry experts on lightbulb behavior and a validation of the Mean Time Between Failure(MTBF) ratings of the light bulbs.

A third team has begun an Analysis of Alternatives for the replacement light bulb; they report that by the end of the week they will have identified the relative power and influence of the Compact Florescent lobby and the LED lobby. Although there is general recognition of the superior energy consumption profile of the LED, there have been some concerns about the ability of the supply chain to support our goals for sustainability and the committee on empowering the differently abled has requested a study of the impact of the blue tint of the LED's on the ability of potential colorblind employees.

A fourth team proactively began working on the SWOT analysis required for the charter which will authorize a project manager who will have the authority to produce the rest of the project documentation and to request that line management assign staff with the requisite technical skills needed to execute the resulting work package(s).

A fifth team has also proactively loaded a preliminary risk registry with some very pertinent questions about the required ladder. There appears to be some very good research that will help to quantify the relationship between the difference between the optimal ladder size and the actual ladder size on the probability and severity of resulting injuries. While I am pleased that they were proactive about the task, they are being counselled because the preliminary risk registry is not based on the authorized Organizational Process Assets. Once the risk registry has been proven to be aligned with organizational best practices, the team will return to developing risk triggers and mitigation plans.

A sixth team is charged with an analysis of the resources used in this project, and the development of an equivalency table that will enable us to evaluate each employee on the basis of Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities, and use those evaluations to develop a unit of measurement the "project manager equivalent(PME)" which can be used to support the Key Performance Indicator. The early estimates are that the answer will be in the 7.5 to 13.2 deca PME. The manager has already begun the process of submitting the PME to the international standards organization.

I had intended the seventh team (supply chain management), to begin work yesterday. They reported a delay because they had to run down to the 7-11 to buy a light bulb.

As a final note I'd like to find who underlined the words "The Project Manager" in my PMBOK and wrote "singular noun marker; the answer is 'one'" in my PMBOK.

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    Too close to reality! :) – David Espina Apr 1 '16 at 11:55
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    I miss the lawyers team in this difficult and dangerouse case! Accidents in the dark, risk when changing it and falling down or get electrochocked. Risk in disposing the replaced bulb.... – André Schild Apr 1 '16 at 13:52
  • Bravo Sir! I have cut and pasted this out to an email and sent it into the organisation (with a link back to here natch!)... – Marv Mills Apr 1 '16 at 14:43

None. That's an infrastructure problem.

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    There's nothing wrong with infrastructure projects! – Iain9688 Apr 1 '16 at 21:42

No matter how many Project Managers it takes, by the time the light bulb has been changed, Product Management will have decided they wanted a candle instead.


None - project managers are always in the dark.


1 PM; 1 electrician; 3 organizational change management consultants; 2 business process consultants; 1 safety engineer; 1 security consultant; 1 PMA; 1.5 risk management consultants; 2 earned value consultants; 1 scheduler; 4 ladders; 3 light bulbs (contingency).

Edited to reflect ladder contingency from Loetn. :)

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    Multiple ladders. Redundancy is key. – Loetn Apr 1 '16 at 10:20
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    you forgot documentation – Tobias Kienzler Apr 1 '16 at 11:24
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    My sister does trade shows. What you wrote sounds like the reality for having an electrical outlet in a booth. – JDługosz Apr 3 '16 at 7:41

Unless the light bulb was to be changed as part of a planned upgrade from incandescent to fluorescent, then it's a BAU issue and not a project. Yes, I know LEDs are the way forward, but we prefer to avoid being at the leading edge so will wait at least 4 generations before we trust that new-fangled technology.


Already answered: the key is that project managers are only one part of the equation. ;)

funny image


Let's call a meeting to introduce the project to all affected department leads, discuss objectives and answer any questions.

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    Lights are out in the meeting room. Can we reschedule to Monday? – Casey Kuball Apr 1 '16 at 17:58

The only thing that is known is that the email chain letter grows exponentially the more people involved and the light bulb rarely gets changed.


Practicably infinitely many. The more basic question might be who, chosen or appointed how, is supposed to safeguard the replacement light bulb(s) against such untoward eventualities as would occur were each or all dropped, stepped on, or otherwise broken.

Beyond the project managers and their staffs and accountants, and beyond their attorneys and their own staffs and accountants, and the accountants' own staffs, we have the minor matters of the light bulb and ladder.

It becomes necessary, of course, to interject the Federal and State (or other comparable jurisdictional) requirements for formal environmental impact analysis, and accordingly a Lead Agency. The light bulb and ladder embody consumptions of natural resources, as well as infrastructures for their manufacture, transportation, wholesale and retail sale, and contributions to tax coffers. The changes in electromagnetic flux affect more than negligibly the visibility of the work environs and user environs, and the entropy. At greater than negligible risk of accidents in darkness or in unaccustomed bright or hot radiomagnetic flux, or even in the event of light bulb breakage under any of diverse circumstances, the entire crew of crews might well require summary transport to hospitals large and near enough to respond responsibly to their sudden emergency needs en masse, in concert, with predictable stresses upon transportation infrastructure, hospital staffing on duty or in reserve for such eventualities, and, of course, upon police. An electrical malfunction would further stress firefighting equipment and staffs. There would be an open probabilities associated with providing and manning ambulances, and with exposures to disease borne either by one or more victims to hospitals, or instead from hospitals' resident immune pathogens to such one or more arriving victims, along with their ambulance staffs, hospital staffs, attorneys and loved ones visiting them, and several other parameters which in interests of brevity we need not yet list. In the event that participants, individually or as a class, were to bring suit over injuries, further stress upon infrastructures would ensue in the Federal, State, County (or similar), and City court systems and court houses, ranging from traffic to staff. Stresses would affect the Legislative Branch, the Executive Branch, and the Judicial Branch of each tier of government. Even stress upon the Fourth Estate would be reasonably expected, over initial selection of Lead Agency as well as over its decision, with similar stresses upon infrastructures of transportation, hospitals, and, of course, police and firefighters.

Even one challenge sounding in mandamus or prohibition in a court of competent jurisdiction in order to halt the proposed change in light bulb would surely speak to failures to respect natural resources as well as infrastructures, or if instead in order to impel the proposed change in light bulb would surely speak to failures to respect individual and public health and safety, either way to the everlasting chagrin of the decision makers in the Lead Agency.

Thus, the simpler approach would seem to be demolishing and replacing the entire building, as fewer project managers and others would be required for that than for changing the light bulb.


it doesn't matter because by the end of project, there will be a flashlight with a fire pit installed instead and the changing of the light bulb will be scheduled as a phase two initiative.


Not on PMs, but the FreeBSD version has always been amusing: https://www.freebsd.org/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/books/faq/funnies.html#idp64889168


The answer is to get to the other side.

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