the project that never was

i watch the history channel and discovery so this idea comes from the secret “what really happened in 1945” shows they often air on Saturday afternoon.

Is there a project in your company that never existed? first what does it mean for a project to never exist?

1. It was never funded.
2. It never had a mandate
3. There were never any resources assigned to the project.

Do you have projects like that? They are actually pet projects that no one dares fund, or kill. They sit there year after year gathering dust. It’s sort of like paperless federal taxes – yes there are no papers, except for all the papers you have to print and keep.

They are there, projects with no mandate, sponsor but for some reason no reason to kill.

it comes from all the CIA and other shows I watch on history. Projects that exist, may produce tangible results but when you try to do traceablility matrix, there isn’t a starting point for the project.


Light the candle, turn off the lighthouse and let that project crash

when should a project fail?


Are there projects that no matter how we proceed they are doomed to fail?

Some projects are, some projects have no opportunity to be successful, in fact they are 10 times more likely to fail then they are to succeed.

To bring these home, you need a project HERO! But what is a project hero? They that special person who through one of two ways can bring a failing back to black.

1. FEAR FACTOR HERO: someone that everyone is ultimately scared of and so, does whatever they can to keep that person away from them. In the case of a fear factor hero, they finish early, they finish right and they stay away from the scary person.
2. The silent hero, this person takes the project on their back and carries it home. They work 80 hours a week until the project is finished.

Either way you run a huge risk with either personality stepping in. So, is it right to reduce your overall risk and let the project fail?

I think so, sometimes (insert consultant “it depends” here) you just to accept that a project was not meant to be. When the cost exceeds the value, then no matter what you will run into the issue of is this project doomed.

Cheers! It’s saturday and 55 degrees. Shut your computer, stop reading blogs and go outside!!!


Laughter fills the room

Comedy and meetings.

Is it something every meeting should have? A little levity? Is comedy a valuable meeting tool?

I’ve wondered about this for a long time. I like to keep meetings moving with a little comedy but I also don’t like meetings where the comedy is directed at a person. I like the pun that makes the room laugh, not the put down of another person that makes everyone laugh, nervously.

I am not a big fan of the use of put-downs as comedy. Friends put each other down as part of a rite of passage and bonding, but the put-down as a humor vechile means you have to put yourself down as much as you put down others.

Pure comedy however can also be a huge distraction. The clown, like the pirate and roles that steal meetings away the clown can impact your meeting.

But controlled the clown can make the meeting more fun and relaxing. The thing you have to control is the put-down artist. That person changes a meeting to a negative vibe no matter what. We all know who they are, the person who puts down everyone in the room, and never quite gets around to self decpricating humor – you know, in the end they are better then everyone else and willing to tell you that.


Confidence vs Faith

what does it mean to have confidence in someone versus faith?

Faith seems a more blind following, a trust without questioning. Confidence is where you know the person is doing the right things but you have questions about their abilities so you have to watch them a little.

This pushes the old concept of “losing faith” in someone. But how do you lose faith and gain confidence? I’ve had people tell me that they trusted me, but didn’t have confidence in me. How is that? Trust is closer to faith…

Anyway it’s a question that bothers me and I am not sure I can answe it right now. Which is it, confidence or faith?

Communication, down…

Why do managers feel the need to communicate down to their teams?

Is it that managers are so “invovled” with the big picture that they don’t have time to bring others up to speed? Or is it that that is how organizations teach managers to talk?

I’ve never understood that.

A team is highly functioning when it is able to repeat from top to bottom the message that the execs have produced.

When teams get out of alignment its really hard to get them back in line.

Is that a lighthouse I see?

When your project is failing you struggle to find a way out of the mess. We look for lighthouses, lifeboats and anything else that may save our careers and the project. But the reality is, the lighthouse is often misleading.

The old adage often fits, (oncoming lights in a tunnel are usually trains).

Lighthouses are only there to warn of even greater danger then you are in. They warn of shoals and rocks that will destroy your project completely. While they have rescue crews, they are seldom equipped to save an entire project.

So what can you do? A friend of mine once said, when the sky is darkest communication should be loudest. That is the only way to rescue a proejct from sinking. But the reality is, you need to act quickly and effectively.

It is an interesting concept – communication and decision making. The ability to make good decisions and in the end do the right thing for your project is a critical skill.

1. Can one person make all the right decisions? NO!
2. Who should make the decisions? Project teams often default to the proejct manager to make decisions or some type of engagement manager, neither of these is the right person. The architect is not the right decision maker, neither is the dev lead. Rather the decision should be made by a combination of each of these roles.

Why don’t more projects take that approach? Egos? turf?

So, when you see a lighthouse, remember it’s too late to plan it’s time to steer!


Communication through mis-direction

Can you communicate in a way that is mis-leading and still be effective?

That is a question I pondered yesterday. This is the greater good question, can you do something for the greater good, that has a negative short term impact?

Let’s examine the concept.

1. Can you mislead someone and still communicate with them? Yes.
2. How far can the deceptoin go before it is problematic? My gut says right around the time they find out about the original misconception.
3. Does the greater good outweigh the smaller pain? This is a great debate to have – does the need outweigh the impact.

First its a moral issue. Is it ever right to mislead someone. There are those who believe it is never right. But we all it all the time, we call them white lies. We communicate with people in misleading ways. But you do have to evaluate if the value of what you are trying to achieve exceeds the cost of the pain you inflict.

I’ve wondered about this for a long time. I’ve come to the conclusion that you can mis-direct someone and still be communicating. You cannot however mislead someone unless the end state is life or death.