This week, in anticipation of Halloween, I asked several of my project management friends to give me their PM Horror Stories. Of course the names and faces have been masked to protect the innocent. But hold on to your Trick-or-Treat bags as there are some truly scary lessons to be learned as we move into:
The Project Management Twilight Zone
Horror Story Number 1:
Stuck in Space and Time
We were told “No one can solve this problem except you.” So we went after it. It was really big. In fact some would say ‘astronomical.’ Our team was big too: nearly 80 people involved worldwide. And somewhere among us was the answer to the problem.
We were charged with changing the design to prevent an accident from occurring again. Of course time was of the essence, and we had to perform the investigation and develop the solution ASAP.
So it was agreed, the team would convene every day for 2 hours until the problem was solved.
The Horror: How long did it take? Not until after nearly 3 months did we finally focus on the true root cause of the problem! I guess sometimes that’s what it takes. Bringing all the experts together across multiple time zones until the solution presents itself. And sometimes the budget and schedule must suffer!
Scary Lessons: This chilling tale leads me to conclude the following:
- 80 people trying to solve one big problem 2 hours at a time is a ghastly investment.
- Perhaps breaking down the team, bringing them together face-to-face, and locking them up until they solve the problem is a better approach (also known as the California State Budgeting Process).
But these things do take time:
“Helping individuals, project teams, and whole organizations work better together.”