Surprise Project Stoppers That Always Occur

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Surprise Project Stoppers That Always Occur

Surprise Project Stoppers That Always Occur
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As much as we think we can, we cannot avoid the phases of change. Project success is imagined in our heads as starting at the beginning and moving steadily to the end without drama, but surprise project stoppers always occur. Emotions drive projects. The ups and downs are what makes a good project outcome. Clarity, conflict, consensus, delegation, and recognition are examples of emotions that will ensure quality if you are willing to collaborate.

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The Committed Team Performance

At the start of the committed project, everyone is excited. A committed but not competent team will struggle with extremes. When starting, they’re on a high with unreasonable expectations for the project. Certainly, everything will go well. Their commitment that they will have success by sheer will locks them into an expectation of little trouble or variance. In project reality, stuff happens. Stuff ALWAYS happens; it doesn’t just happen to dumb people. Quickly, people start blaming each other, and it starts to degrade until the bottom is hit. There is no way and no amount of commitment that protects you from surprises. Throwing the project over their collective shoulders, the project team struggles to get the project done, pushing productivity uphill. The team believes that wanting it to be perfect will make it so. Not being perfect is a surprise that creates rework and churns on a project that takes too long to finish with less quality than expected. The secret is that there will always be surprises.

The Competence Team Performance

The Competence Team has the maturity to understand that surprises will occur. They are always waiting for the next shoe to drop. If you are a mature project manager, you’re always watching for signs of a surprise. It’s not a problem; it’s expected. Committed and Competence teams start from very different directions but end at the same place. The Competence team knows how to be agile and collaborative.

Perception of Projects: The Two-Week Dump

There is another thing that commonly happens in projects when they are about two weeks out from finishing. That’s right when you can see the finish line, and the team is starting to plan what they’ll do next. Suddenly, some stakeholder comes out of the woodwork with a large change. This usually happens because there is a stakeholder who is afraid to ask for a key requirement and ends up having to blurt it out when the project is almost done. Change at this point in the project is always likely to break something else.

Bad News Early Is Good News

When working on projects, seek out the bad news as early as you can. If there are stakeholders who aren’t showing up for the meetings, talk to them 1-on-1. Collaboration is the key to project success.

Author
Headshot of Lou Russell smiling
Lou Russell

 Lou Russell is an executive consultant, popular speaker, and respected author whose passion is to create growth in companies by guiding the growth of their people. In her speaking, training, and writing, she draws on 30 years of experience helping organizations to achieve their full potential. Lou is the author of seven popular books, such as Leadership Training, Training Triage, and Managing Projects. She has spoken at more than 300 conferences, including ATD International and the Society of Information Management (SIM). Lou has an “expired” BS from Purdue in Computer Science and an MS in Instructional Systems Technology from Indiana. Her business is a certified Women’s Business Enterprise and a Project Management Institute partner.

Connect with Lou on LinkedIn.

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