Shit happens. It’s how you deal with it that counts.
Ok, so at the risk of drowning in a flood of project managers’ tears, we need to lay some truth on you.
There’s no such thing as a glitch-free project.
We know, we’ve just torpedoed the nirvana of the perfect zero-snag project, along with the chance of you giving the boss what they want.
But c’mon, let’s be real — look at your own past experience and you know we’re right. Whether it’s down to timings, resources, budget, or people, at least one thing will always go south. It’s just not possible to completely avoid problems and mistakes.
But stick with us. Cos a perfect project and a successful project are not the same thing.
Once you accept that shit’s gonna go sideways, you can move the goalposts. You can start measuring success not by the absence of problems, but by your team’s response to them. The first thing is out of your control, but the second is 100% in your hands.
So here’s a few general lessons about shit-shovelling that we’ve learned the hard way…
Put the pointy fingers away
Rather than wasting time playing the blame game, focus on de-fudging. Solving the problem is more important than going on a witch-hunt for whoever caused it.
Always look on the bright side of life
As painful as those curveballs can feel at the time, a slight turning of the screws can sharpen your focus and open you up to different ideas. Think about the 1968 failed attempt to create a super-strong adhesive on behalf of sticky-stuff moguls 3M. While most people were busy face-palming, one guy noticed the adhesive could be easily pulled off so used it on a piece of paper as a bookmark. And bam — the world’s first post-it. You just never know where mistakes and problems can lead you if you keep an open mind and channel the Monty Python boys.
Make like Stretch Armstrong
Can you re-jig the schedule? If it’s a digital project can it go live without a certain feature (to be added later)? Could drafting in another person with fresh thinking get you back on track? When problems rear their ugly heads, don’t stick blindly to your original plan — be flexible like our old rubber Hasbro pal.
Don’t step in the same shit twice
While you can’t stop mistakes from happening, you can stop them from happening again! Once you’ve fixed a problem it’s tempting to just move on and try to forget that hot mess — but make sure you take the time to properly pick apart whatever snafu has tripped you up so you can work out how to sidestep it next time.
Conclusion? It’s impossible to avoid the smelly brown stuff — so next time it hits the fan, focus on turning it into compost and growing something cool with it!
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