A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from September 16, 2011
Six Phases of a Project (“Enthusiasm, disillusionment, panic…”)

The “six phases of a project” have been jocularly described as:
1. Enthusiasm,
2. Disillusionment,
3. Panic,
4. Search for the guilty,
5. Punishment of the innocent, and
6. Praise and honor for the nonparticipants.
The list was used in computer science in the early 1970s, and quickly spread to engineering and government projects. Ephraim R. McLean called this the “all-too-true life cycle of a typical EDP system” in 1972.
Wikipedia: Six phases of a big project
The six phases of a big project are a cynical take on the outcome of big projects, with an unspoken assumption of their inherent tendency toward failure. The list is reprinted in slightly different compositions in any number of project management books as a cautionary tale.
One such example gives the phases as:
1. Enthusiasm,
2. Disillusionment,
3. Panic and hysteria,
4. Search for the guilty,
5. Punishment of the innocent, and
6. Praise and honor for the nonparticipants.
Google Books
Joint Computer Conference
Volume 41, Part 2
American Federation of Information Processing Societies
Pg. 672:
McLean proposes a characterization for the “all-too-true life cycle of a typical EDP system: unwarranted enthusiasm, uncritical acceptance, growing concern, unmitigated disaster, search for the guilty, punishment of the innocent and promotion of the uninvolved.”
Pg. 679:
Assessing returns from the data processing investment
Effective versus Efficient Computing
Publisher to be selected
Google Books
EDP Analyzer
Volume 11
Pg. 1:
1. Uncritical acceptance
2. Wild enthusiasm
3. Dejected disillusionment
4. Total confusion
5. Search for the guilty
6. Punishment of the innocent
7. Promotion of non-participants
The unhappy fact is that there is more truth than fiction in the list.
Google Books
Computers and Management in a Changing Society
2nd edition
By Donald H. Sanders
New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
Pg. 238:
But there have been reasons enough in the past for Ephraim MacLean, professor of Information Systems, University of California at Los Angeles, and Lawrence Welke, president of International Computer Programs, Inc., to describe the life cycle of a typical computer data processing system as(1) wild euphoria when the new system is announced, (2) growing concern, (3) “near total disillusionment as the systems people realize almost all the goals set down in stage 1 are unattainable (mainly because management has not set down what it wants),” (4) unmitigated disaster, (5) search for the guilty, (6) punishment of the innocent, and (7) promotion of the uninvolved. (The last three stages occur in quick order, according to Mr. Welke.)
Google Books
ACM; proceedings of the annual conference
Association for Computing Machinery
Pg. 283:
(Source Unknown)
Google News Archive
2 April 1976, Ellensburg (WA) Daily Record, pg. 4, col. 2:
The 9-phase legislative session
There was a list on the wall of Ulcer Gulch in the Legislative Building of the nine phases of a legislative session:

1. Unbridled enthusiasm.
2. Guarded optimism.
3. Cool objectivity.
4. Quiet confusion.
6. Utter disenchantment.
7. Search for the guilty.
8. Punishment of the innocent.
9. Awards to non-participants.
24 December 1976, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Unlocking Oil From Shale—How Close?” by Dan Fisher, pg. A1:
The sign in Ned Hutchins’ office in a converted mobile home atop Logan Wash near here purports to trace the typical evolution of a research and development program. First comes wild enthusiasm, the sign observes cynically. Then follows disappointment and mutual mination (Illegible—ed.), the search for the guilty, punishment of the innocent ...
2 May 1978, Seattle (WA) Daily Times, Walt Evans column, pg. A10, col. 1:
GOING HOME TIMES: Here, to add to your list of “laws” are The Six Stages of a Project: 1. Enthusiasm; 2. Disillusionment; 3. Panic; 4. Search fortheguilty; 5. Punishment of the innocent, and 6. Honor and praise for the nonparticipants.
Google Books
Physician’s Primer on Computers:
Private Practice

By Jan F. Brandejs and Graham C. Pace
Lexington, MA: Lexington Books
Pg. 139:
The planning process, if not carried through with wisdom and common sense, may progress along the following critical path:
Event 1: Unlimited enthusiasm
Event 2: Total disillusionment
Event 3: Utter chaos
Event 4: Search for the guilty
Event 5: Punishment for the innocent
Event 6: Promotion of nonparticipants
Google Books
Astronautics & Aeronautics
Volume 17
Pg. 27:
He knows better than anyone the great truths in the humorously alleged six successive phases of a new aerospace project: Enthusiasm— Disillusionment— Panic- Search for the guilty— Punishment for the innocent— Praise and honor for the non-participants.
14 February 1983, Trenton (NJ) Evening Times, Frank Tyger column, pg. B1, col. 1:
On the office wall of Tom Blackburn, Trenton Times editorial writer and theater critic, hangs a sign saying:
1. Enthusiasm
2. Disillusionment
3. Panic
4. Search for the guilty
5. Punishment of the innocent
6. Praise and honors for the non-participants
Google News Archive
26 June 1984, Boston (MA) Phoenix, sec. 3, pg. 10, cols. 2-3:
In production designer Norman Reynolds’s office, there is a poster listing “The Six Phases of Film Production”: 1) Wild enthusiasm; 2) Disillusionment; 3) Panic; 4) Search for the guilty; 5) Punishment of the innocent; 6. Reward of the noninvolved.
Google News Archive
31 October 1988, Milwaukee (WI) Journal, “Pretty clean politics” by Gerald Kloss, pg. 1B, col. 1:
A puckish poster describes “Six Phases of the Campaign: 1. Enthusiasm. 2. Disillusionment. 3. Panic. 4. Search for the guilty. 5. Punishment of the innocent. 6. Praise and reward for the non-participant.”
Google Books
The Literary Spy:
The ultimate source for quotations on espionage and intelligence

By Charles E. Lathrop
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press
Pg. 75:
“Six Phases of a US Government Sponsored Covert Action: Enthusiasm—Disillusionment— Panic—Search for the Guilty—Punishment of the Innocent—Praise and Honor for the Nonparticipants.”
Sign posted in CIA’s Central American Task Force, 1982, cited in Clarridge, A Spy for All Seasons (1997).
Solyndra Moves from Story to Epic
By Jim Roth
September 14, 2011 10:05 PM EDT
There’s an old joke among engineers that applies to the demise of this engineering company. It gives us the phases of any project: “Enthusiasm, disillusionment, panic, search for the guilty, punishment of the innocent, praise for the non-participants.”

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