Posted by: kerrywills | January 7, 2011

Parental approaches to troubled projects


I have spent a large portion of my career rescuing troubled projects. Sometimes I get them it the beginning and have time to restructure them and sometimes (usually) I get them late when everything is on fire. In my view there are four types of projects which need attention and I will use a parenting analogy for each….

  • Adoption – This is when you get the project  early in life and it hasn’t been skewed by the evils of the world just yet. It may not have had a lot of love by the time you get it, but you have a lot of opportunity and time to correct it and put it on the right path.
  • Foster care – These projects are young but some bad habits have already been established. These require a little bit of work to identify the problems, highlight the rules and then steer them in the right direction. There might be some resistance at first but generally these can be helped and turn out just fine.
  • Military camp – These are projects that have been going on for a while with bad habits and they think that is the norm. These are the projects that are usually behind, poorly run, have unclear roles and inconsistent results. These need to get put through an aggressive ‘boot camp’ to shape them up and ‘break’ the bad habits.
  • Intervention – The worst type of project because these are the ones that are out of control. These projects have missed every date, have lots of outstanding issues (good metaphor, huh?) and are generally in chaos. The only way to have any hopes of saving them is to have an aggressive intervention which may require putting the project on hold, changing out resources, or making other dramatic changes.

This project needs to take a time out

As you can see there is not one answer to rescue troubled projects and it depends on the type of project and how long it has been going down the wrong path.  Now if I only I could use techniques such as “time out”, sending people to their rooms or taking away toys.

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