Limbo projects

If you had been checking around the projects page of my blog, you might have noticed that I have a couple of “limbo” projects. It’s a term coined up, idea in part borrowed from the movie Inception, where dreams enter a level of no return. Limbo projects represents the a similar situation I encountered while managing some projects; projects that go into a level of never being completed or terminated.

Missing in project management literature, I came up with the term to describe projects with the following characteristics

  1. Projects that you and the client both know will not be finished, but there is no repurcussions, as the agreement between both of you is informal or is not being respected
  2. So much scope creep that, you know finishing the project in good faith is not going to happen.

Limbo projects are very common for projects where the client is yourself a.k.a your own projects. A small suggestion would be to not have too many limbo projects as they have a nasty habit of picking your interest up later on, take up your time for a while before going limbo on you again. The worst kind of limbo projects are the formal limbo projects, where the client keeps adding incrementally to the scope, until you and the client both know that the project has stopped in all sense and the only reason the project is active is just to keep up with formalities.

Limbo projects are a sort of “death march” project, bound to fail if you ever get to finish it. The most ideal way to handle this project type is to terminate what ever mutual understanding you have with the client (or yourself if its a self project) and start afresh. Keep a keen eye on the scope of the project when starting new and make sure that formal agreements are made on what is the required outcome. When you are the client of the project you manage, this may require a split-personality approach to doing things. Sounds crazy, right? For own projects, scope is the most flexible thing in the world, sort of making you wish you were in bed with it. The downfall with this flexibility is scope creep is inevitable for any project of relative complexity.

Not convinced? It’s a hard reality, so accept that projects can go down this path.

….you won’t even remember that we had an arrangement. Limbo’s gonna become your reality. You’re gonna be lost down there so long that you’re gonna become an old man.