Surprise Project Stoppers that Always Occur

Surprise Project Stoppers that Always Occur
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Written by: Lou Russell

As much as we think we can, you cannot avoid the phases of change. Regardless, you will go through the columns below no matter what project you are working on.

Project success is imagined in our heads as starting at the beginning moving steadily to the end without drama. The diagram above shows that 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. In the diagram below, you can see how this influences success.


>> Learn more at the webinar: DARE to Be a Successful Project Manager.


The Committed Team Performance

At the start of the committed project, everyone is excited. A committed but not competent team will struggle with extremes. The blue lines indicate this type of project team. 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 churn 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. The red line shows the 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. The line of red is shorter, and less expensive, then the dotted blue lines.

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 are 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…

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