"Get the commitment for something big, pocket a large part of the loot and have plenty of time to work on your excuses." -- Someone at AnAcceptableWayOfFailingmoved here from AnAcceptableWayOfFailing
No, the software groups in question (one US and one UK based) didn't receive payment for wasted work when the projects were closed down. They had already RECEIVED PAYMENT IN ADVANCE!
This was of course to fund the construction of what were to become large chunks of unfinished and incomplete work. The managers in charge then had major problems even conceiving of a viable 'evolution' of the work, as the delivery plans had been geared up to reinforce the developers' original development strategy, big ideas, grand plans and ongoing annual budget. Should this perhaps be called the loadsamoney lifecycle?
In both these cases I have no doubt certain members of each group knew exactly what they were doing. They inflated their project costs to reduce risk by assembling plans with a type of 'contingency fund' for failure. Who or what customer would then be willing to part with (more) good money just to finish off incomplete, unfinished and inadequate work?
I do regret not having kicked up more of a fuss, but at that time I was only a powerless 'end user.' Were my employers very unlucky to run into the only two development groups on the planet deserving the label unethical? I'd like to think yes, but then again we are talking about human beings.
Part of what really sticks in the throat with these situations is the "double or quits" decision presented to the hapless customer, at a time when progress so far has made absolutely clear his (or her) effective lack of any control over any part of the process. Such practices have often seemed far too close to me to blackmail or mafia style protection rackets - and this in the industry that I've chosen to make a living through.