When Your Project Implodes, 10 steps to sift through the ashes

You just got out of your stakeholder’s office. Most of your tail has been chewed off and the rest is tucked squarely between your legs ….. now what? It is time to let your leadership shine through! Use these steps to pull your project out of the ashes and make things right.

1. If you didn’t take notes during the meeting, go back to your office and write down everything including the good, the bad and the ugly. This will help you to sort out the details instead of trying to do it all in your head which is likely reeling from the chewing.

2. Categorize the talking points into the things you can fix, the things that you cannot fix and the things someone else can help you fix. This will help you to focus on the things you can change without the noise of the unfixable cluttering your mind. Put these on three different pieces of paper.

3. Take a deep breath and step away for a bit. As long as the pain is still fresh, you won’t be able to think very clearly and will likely make a few knee-jerk decisions ….. these will not serve you well.

4. After clearing your head, start formulating your get well plan. Plan out your actions taken from the meeting as well as what you can do to fix the things you could have prevented. This is your own personal lessons learned exercise.

5. Work with the person/people who can help you fix the things you cannot fix yourself. This may be a functional supervisor of a team member that missed key deliverables. This can also be your boss, or stakeholder … asking for help is not a further sign of failure.

6. Communication

7. Communication

8. Communication … keeping your stakeholders uo to date on progress,  risks, issues, and successes will only help to rebuild the trust that was damaged. Don’t wait for the status report, sometimes,  that is too late.

9. Throw away the items you wrote down that were completely out of your control or sphere of influence. You cannot do anything about them so stop looking at them.

10. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and go fix it.

Every project manager will experience bad failures at some point in their career.  Sometimes it happens more than once. You are no different, but if you learn from the mistakes …. truly learn from them, then you can avoid making a habit of it.

Good luck, and power on!

What have you done to fix an imploding project?

2014 – Year in Review

As 2015 revs up, I can’t help but look back on the 2014 and think about all that happened, good, bad, and otherwise. There have been some successes, but mostly, I have had opportunities for . . . ahem . . . improvement. I got another year older, another pound heavier, and watched my kids get another year older too. I did accomplish many goals, however, and I am thankful for that, but I feel I might have been able to do more. Sure, I have five children and they take up a lot of time, but I’m not sure things were prioritized as they should have been.

As I look back, I am of the opinion that my resolve to #connect (see my post from January 1, 2014) may have fallen a bit shorter than I had hoped. Well, that’s okay, as I have more resolve left, and will overcome my own shortcomings.

Here are my yearly blog stats:

  • 8 blog posts
  • 21 views on my highest day (all-time is 32)
  • 64 different countries (ok, that’s pretty cool to me)
  • Two sites (other than Twitter, and LinkedIn) referring (needs to be better)
  • 0 guest posts (ouch – need to fix this)

Not super stellar, but better than nothing, I guess. As for my personal goals, I did okay here too:

  • Finished reading the entire Bible
  • Renewed my PMP certification 5 months early

Sure, all of these need work. I am committed to working on them all and doing more in 2015. I know my beautiful and supporting wife will help me through it all.

Here are my goals for 2015:

  • Focus on the #OneWord resolution for 2015: #Prioritize
  • Read the Bible through again using the YouVersion app– this time in one year
    • If you don’t have the YouVersion app on your mobile device, it is available for free and is absolutely fantastic! (www.youversion.com or www.lifechurch.tv) If you do not know Jesus Christ, I’d love to connect with you to share the good news of what He has to offer.
  • 24 blog posts – that’s two a month
  • More than 1000 views for the year
  • More than 33 views for a single day
  • Readers from 65 different countries
  • Four site referrals (double 2014)
  • Be a guest blogger for at least one site

So, there it is, my personal goals for 2015. Feel free to hold me accountable and encourage me as I am sure that I’ll need both at some point. As a “hobby blogger” sometimes, things can get pushed aside accidentally.

If you have a topic you’d like to read an opinion about or to gain some additional perspective on, please let me know. I would love to write on things that matter to you most. I wish you a happy and prosperous new year!

A New Resolution

Resolutions – well, ’tis the season, I guess. Have you made yours? What sort of resolutions have you made this year? Have you decided to exercise more  or maybe loose a few pounds? Both of those are extremely important and worthy of a resolution. What about vowing to quit smoking? That one is important for sure, especially if you have children. All of these are great ideas for a personal resolution, but what about professionally? Have you given any thought to that?

I’m not talking about resolving to get to work on time more or even to get there ten minutes earlier each day. Yes, these are also important especially if you are consistently late. No, I’m talking about things less tangible and outside of the boundaries of a SMART goal. I actually like the word goal better than resolution, but given the season, I’ll stick with resolution. Try these on:

  • Resolve to be more AGREEABLE. Are you a little “chippy” at the office? Do people find you hard to work with? If you can’t answer those, ask yourself if you find yourself getting into heated discussions often or find yourself getting defensive more than just once in a while. Make yourself easier to get along with. No, that doesn’t mean become a doormat.
  • Resolve to be more ACCOUNTABLE. Yep, I went there. I understand the word accountable can create an unnatural fear in the hearts of many strong people. Think about it though. Accountability isn’t about taking the blame all the time. What I’m talking about is personal accountability. Only you can make sure you are consistently taking care of your own business. When you miss the mark, and you will, take responsibility and watch the trust points start to add up.
  •  Resolve to be a LEADER. Sorry, they don’t all start with “A” even though that would have been cool. You don’t have to be in a “leadership” position to lead. Even if you are “only” a clerk in a mailroom, you can lead. I once had a coworker tell me that we could lead from the bottom. That struck a chord within me and sparked a fire deep inside that cannot be put out. Don’t let your current position make you think you can’t lead…..YOU CAN. So many great things can and will happen when you start to act like a leader. It is time to step up your game.
  • Resolve to be SMARTER. Keep yourself informed and up-to-date. What are the current trends in your field? Chances are you can attend many webinars for free or cheap. A good resource I have found is Twitter. Though much of what you will find are links to blogs like this one, there are some really great articles out there.
For myself, I am going to do all of these things and probably more. I’m going to use the “One Word” approach that many are talking about. My word is CONNECT. I will work on better connecting with my team; myself; my wife and children; and most importantly, with God. That one word encompasses everything I want to work on. I can focus on that one word and use it as my motivation. All I have to do is ask myself of what I’m doing is helping me to better connect.
I understand I have violated the rules of setting SMART goals, but these goals, or resolutions, are realistic and might even be considered smart after all.
What are you focusing on this year? I’d love to know. Please comment below and may 2014 be your best year yet!