Something’s Always Wrong

256-256-4c515d45f6a8c4fe16e448a692a9370dYou may think I’m a bitter guy when visiting my blog, ironically, this is not true. Even when this site is called “Happy Project Management”; most of the blog titles carry a negative connotation. On the contrary, I am not bitter guy, I am simply utterly realistic. Today’s blog is about the perfect project, which of course does not exist, maybe in your imagination or in your dreams. And, sadly, and against your happier wishes won’t ever exist. Why?

The answer is simple, perfection does not exist in project management. I think it does not exist anywhere. If anyone says their projects are perfect, please challenge them immediately. Something’s Always Wrong. Projects, as you may know, have to be successful, not perfect. Project Success has many dimensions, and of course not just time, cost and scope. Let me grab a few samples. How many dimensions do you want to measure besides the usual ones?

I’ll start with the biggest offender, documentation. I’m sure you are shivering right now praying that nobody goes back and asks you for a specific document, minute, agreement, issue or plan adjustment. Good luck with that. Heck!,  there’s the infamous Grade vs. Quality issue, most customers confuse them and demand you one when they are expecting the other or vice versa. How about “exceeding customer expectations” ? Let’s say you invested additional time making your project more visually appealing, that’s good, but you spent more money and of course; more time. What happens with those customers that will never call you back even after successful projects, sometimes because of budget constraints, corporate mandate, technology migration, or worst; administrative reasons. Or, because they simply DIDN’T like working with you. Bummer.

Are you pursuing a target of 0 complaints from the customer? Forget it, be pretty sure you will receive complaints just a justification to establish a negotiation point. Are you part of a project that MUST be executed? such as a migration, upgrade, end of life, moving to a new building/office? Those projects will bring tons of unhappy users, no matter if your did it on time and saved money. Did you receive a prize, recognition, award or something similar? Yeah, I’m sure nobody remembers it anymore, but you. (Remember my last blog?) Your team spent extra hours? Good luck trying to charge anybody for them. Do you think your outsourcing is going smoothly, because well, it’s an outsourcing and you don’t manage it directly? Hell no, be prepared to be blamed for poor project management.

Well, as you can see, the list goes on and on and on. Something’s Always Wrong, it will be very hard to achieve success, and it will be impossible to achieve perfection. What can we do?

Be sure to know how are you going to measure your project success and always use goals that can be measured. Motivate yourself to evolve towards different success dimensions, one step at a time. Once you have in-time in-scope in-cost projects, take a look at your rebuy rate, or go back and audit yourself and be sure you have all documentation, go back with your QA team and review your project, show the lessons learned to other PMs, measure how much support time your project has required after its closure, and so on.

Something’s Always Wrong, just be sure that those little things that are wrong, are the things you can’t control.

Don’t brag about your accomplishments

Captura2Hey there, just getting back to this blogging stuff. Looks like I had an inspirational crisis, then I took a look at the stats on my blog and realized I had plenty of visits last month. So, I want to go back and share some funny experiences about Happy Project Management. This time I will talk about bragging about the things you’ve done.

Recently, our project team was publicly recognized for a great accomplishment in a project that made a huge difference for one of our biggest customers. This publication brought joy and happiness to all. This accomplishment was published and it followed a series of happy events during the current year, but I’ll talk about all those later, since I don’t like bragging.

Let me tell you; this project was really painful, it burned a couple of guys down, from both our team and the customer’s team. But eventually, we were able to save it not once, but twice. And it looks like we’ll be around for some time. Cheers!

I thanked the team, we congratulated each other and enjoyed these milliseconds of joy. Well, at least the few of us that were still standing and were still part of the project, we lost some soldiers along the battle. At the end, this moment was bittersweet. Why? Because most of the people have issues enjoying accomplishments, moments of happiness, and even closing deals. We are not used to success, we feel uncomfortable and awkward when this happens, our mind is prepared to deal with failure, but not with success. Specially when managing projects, we tend to remember those awry projects more often than the good ones. Take a look at these conversations I’m sure you have often:

-Hey, do you remember the eagle project?

-I hated that project, it was really bad

-Hey, do you remember the gray project? We finished on time, very few problems…

-Not really… what was it about?

People enjoy being bitter, believe me, they do. Always. They like to know things are going bad so they can blame on somebody, so they can steal the thunder of your milliseconds of Joy, so they can remind you later how bad your other projects are. Well, the bad news is that you won’t be able to change this mindset, you rarely will get warmth words, so, don’t expect them. Just be sure to take some time (two milliseconds) and enjoy your accomplishments, just don’t brag about them. And be prepared for everybody to forget about it.

Don’t brag about your accomplishments, just be sure everybody knows about them.

TTYL, Leave your comments, follow me on twitter @luishectordiaz to read short thoughts and #PMPhrases