Hurrying to Project Failure

Hurrying to Project Failure

I was in Atlanta’s airport for a connecting flight and had to go to another terminal.  This meant jockeying with and through the masses of fellow travelers and down the escalator to the “plane train.”  Once on board, as the door was about to close, just as the door was closing three people came running and the first guy stepped in even though the door was closing.  Plane TrainThis created a lot of interest from the regular travelers since the doors on the Atlanta airport’s tram are not friendly.  I would willfully stick my arm or leg in many elevator doors about to close and not worry about my personal safety.  I would even jump in closing doors in the Orlando airport tram, but not Atlanta.  Some engineer with a twisted evil streak designed those doors and experienced travelers in a hurry generally don’t test them.

The first guy made it most of the way in and was caught by the tram’s door.  The second passenger was a lady who must have thought she was leaning forward like it was the finish line in a race because the outside door had her head.  Most trams would have already opened by now but I watched the door continue to close and exert pressure. Just when I thought the lady’s head was about to be permanently elongated with a look of panic on her face, the door opened and the recorded voice said “someone is blocking the door” and the doors opened.  The third passenger then rushed in too along with some opportunists that were just standing by!

The three hurrying  passengers were exuberant, high fiving and congratulating each other and giving kudos to the first guy.  They joyfully recapped their journey through the terminal and said the airline had twice changed their gate.  The first guy then asked what gate are we going to, and the lady replied D37.  Everyone around them immediately realized what they didn’t know.  The train was going to the B and A gates.  They had risked life and limb to get on a train going in the opposite direction, taking them farther away from where they needed to be.

A root cause of hurrying to project failure is that you are not paying enough attention, not communicating enough, not planning enough.

Before they took off running, they should have huddled up and confirmed where they were going.  But this time taken to communicate is not time running and running is always perceived as progress.   Communication and planning are not perceived as progress but the reality is this is where most progress takes place.

The status quo for most project managers is to be in a hurry. 

Not only that, the team is in a hurry, the vendors are in a hurry, the customer is in a hurry, etc.  The project manager is the person accountable to ensure all these parties are not on the train going in the wrong direction, hurrying to project failure.  Always have the discipline to take the time to stop and communicate, to evaluate and reconfirm we are headed in the right direction with everything we need to get there.  Then take off running.

Posted by Dr. James Brown in Discpline, Program Management, Project Management.


One response to “Hurrying to Project Failure”

  1. dennisbrooke says:

    One of the things I like about Dr. Brown’s advice is that it’s not just for project management, it’s for life in general. This post reminds me about a larger than life boss who taught us that, “We don’t get paid for superior effort, we get paid for superior performance.” 
    Chasing down the wrong train and getting on it (at risk to appendages) is a lot of effort, but hardly performance. I like to take the first part of my day to sit down, plan, take a breath, and make sure I know the right train.
    Thanks, Dr. Brown

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