Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar icon
Adobe PDF icon

3 Reasons We Say Yes to Impossible Projects

~ By Brad Egeland

Project manager showing Superman suit under shirt

Superman. OK, he has his Kryptonite weakness, but that's about it. Let's get one thing straight - as a group, project managers are not comparable to Superman. So why are project managers so eager to jump into a sinking, stinking project when the opportunity arises?

OK, yes, some aren't so ready to do that. But I have done it many times and will likely do it again. I've seen many of my colleagues do it willingly as well. So I know I'm not alone. And I know we don't all have a superhero complex.

Many times we don't have an option. When management says here is your next project, you often don't really have a choice. But there's a difference between willingly jumping in and grudgingly jumping in.

Most of us go pretty willingly. If it's not because we see ourselves as superheroes ready to right a sinking ship, then why?

My theory? I have several:

Stupidity

Well, there is that. How that really should read is "green" or "wet behind the ears." Maybe you're the new guy and you don't dare balk at any project assignment. Instead, you get blindly excited about anything thrown your way. You take on anything assigned - even if you have a choice - just to prove your worth, to gain your battle scars or stripes.

No Guts, No Glory

The "I'll take on anything and win (maybe)" mentality. This could fall under stupidity because it's a careless attitude to take when career management is an ongoing concern - as it should be. But certainly many of us feel invincible.

When you have a dozen or more years of project manager experience, not a lot fazes you. You'll "just do it" and ask questions later. "Thanks for the assignment cap'n" - you know the type. You probably are the type…just as most of us can fall under more than one (all?) of these categories depending on the day of the week.

No Choice

This is a common one. I've been in organisations with cool projects, loser projects, high-anxiety projects, boring projects, and those occasional projects that look like you'll die trying to manage them to success. And often times I've been given no choice in the matter as to which ones I get. Sure, you can put your request in for a project, but just like the CSI team on TV - when a need arises, you assign the best resources available for that need at that moment. Then you go with it.

In most organisations, the resource gate keepers - including the PMO director if you have one - have a very limited pool of project personnel available at any given time to draw from. Many of those are already booked pretty solid on existing projects.

So sometimes - often times or all the time in some organisations - you get what you get. And usually that's because you have particular experience with a type of customer or technology that warrants the use of your time on a given project.

Sometimes that's one of those "impossible" projects, unfortunately.

Summary

What's your excuse? How do you end up taking on the impossible project?

Do you have an "impossible" project experience you can share with us - perhaps one you were able to turn around with proper management and a few tricks up your sleeve?

Superheroes and tricks aside, in the next post, we'll look at the things that make an impossible project impossible (or nearly so) to succeed on.

For now, though, we'd love to hear your thoughts/experiences. Share them in the comments below.


Advertisement


Comments

Be the first to comment on this article.

Add a comment



(never displayed)



 
2000
Is it true or false that purple is a number?
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

Avoiding Project Management Pitfalls

Foot about to tread on a banana skin

Common pitfalls that projects experience and some tips to help make a project more successful and avoid the potential for chaos.

Managing The Project Time

Man pointing at an alarm clock

Project managers should know the iron triangle of project management, sometimes called the triple constraints of project management, because all projects are constrained by these elements.

Break Your PMP Studies Into Small Pieces

A mature student concentrating on her studies

Taking the PMP exam is one of the biggest steps you'll take in your career as a Project Manager. With careful planning you can pass with a minimum of stress.

But What is Best for the Customer?

Four business people's hands holding puzzle pieces

Ideally our project management methodology in a box process works perfectly for everyone. But clients come in all types and sizes and one size doesn't fit all.

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what's happening in the world of project management.


Latest Comments

Ashwini Pendharkar commented on…
10 Golden Rules of Project Risk Management
- Tue 20 June 1:32pm

Tery commented on…
A Brief History of SMART Goals
- Mon 19 June 10:10pm

Tammy Marin commented on…
Better Coaching Using the GROW Model
- Thu 15 June 10:37pm

Latest tweets

General Project Management • Re: Is complete transparency with the project customer a good… https://t.co/Jcqxcrq49P #projectsmart #pmot about 14 days ago

General Project Management • Re: What are your PM best practices? I think we often miss 5 keys… https://t.co/bMHcYqOauf #projectsmart #pmot about 18 days ago

General Project Management • Re: I Got It Wrong https://t.co/uIy2Yv8owO #projectsmart #pmot about 25 days ago