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Manage   »   Projects   »   Beware Some Managers Bite

You will deliver your first project to budget, end of story. This is universally without question and you will undoubtedly be asked to deliver the next project in sequence, if only to prove it was not a stroke of luck. You will deliver project number two to budget also, do not worry. Although the delivery of project number two will feel less of a challenge to you and to your team, it will appear no less heroic to your organisational management. However, we wish to provide the seeds of a small caution as you stroll away, smiling smugly and clicking your heels together, heading towards your second commendable project delivery celebration.

In our experience although it may seem a little unexpected, when you deliver the first project in your organisation to time to quality and to budget, the whole organisation does not always react instantly or positively to your project delivery endeavours. The organisation will offer suggestions and contributions that affirm your triumphs and, whilst you may casually ignore apathetic or nil responses, you will undoubtedly experience some disapproving and condemnatory reactions too. However, you may feel that while these comments are only responses from the margins, once they are combined, they illustrate the true temperature or the real opinion of the whole organisation to your project delivery successes.

Trust us. They do not. It is often simply a negative reaction to your very positive delivery. It can be explained by looking at commercial retail purchasing experiences. We are told that shoppers are more likely to discuss and share their negative purchasing incidents than give positive feedback regarding their enjoyable acquisitions. They naturally expect successful enjoyment and are disappointed with failure. Your antagonists though expect the opposite; they expect your failure and are disappointed with your success. If you do not experience such opposition then consider yourself fortunate and move on.

People behaviours at this point in the process have an element of reliable predictability. We have seen so many times where new successful agile delivery in an organisation challenges the conventional or incumbent methodology. Your novel success confronts the conventional paralysis preferred by those who reject change and resent improvement to maintain stasis.

We find though that their disappointment can spread and grow virally as the undercover doubters in your organisation gradually amass and coagulate in like-minded groups. If you identify, pre-empt and obstruct such resistance and opposition before it grows and spread, it will be useful long term to your projects. It will minimise the objections to success in the organisation and make it easier to start agile projects in the future. Therefore, your project will be wise to use a little time to enquire and solicit opinion in the wider organisation and to explore the management viewpoint on other projects, early.

Crucially, we find that if resentment is going to happen, it tends to start to grow around half way through the second project. This is about the time when some major shipments are complete. This is also about the time when your willing sense of impending and reassuring success meets a contrary ethos in the form of your doubters sinister sensations of spiteful resentment. At this point, we normally find, dissenters will be using their time during project number two to choose and setup devilish challenges for project number three.

Your success however will always provoke those with opposing agendas. After the first project delivered successfully they could comfortably explain this accident away as a fluke. After the second project, however, a similar excuse will not suffice. When you again very successfully deliver in a measurably marvellous manner it must be, and undoubtedly will be, explained away with more comprehensive analysis of the project deliverables.

At this point, we often see antagonists use as evidence various inexact comparisons of the characteristics of your deliverables from your projects. They often compare them indistinctly with the output of other projects though more often than not these projects will have delivered over a greater time or at a greater cost. So the comparisons are universally inexact and flawed.

You will deliver the third project to budget also. However, there may be some nasty hidden traps, maybe some very well hidden and some very embarrassing traps indeed to greet you. This was the devilish activity your antagonists were plotting in the background. We see this happen so many times and although this may sound a little paranoid it is true and we have evidenced it a number of times in both large and small organisations.

Your success breeds local partisan opposition. Our advice is to follow the Toolkit, use it as a reminder for all the things you need to check and get agreement to. Set the right landscape and environment for the project and get the business sponsor working close by. Ultimately the evidence will be compelling and the proof will be in satisfied business stakeholders.

If our experiences are anything to go by in this regard, look out for hidden stakeholders. These are contributors to the project that are not easily identified. This is the engagement feature that is easy for your detractors to hide and to exploit. Planting a hidden stakeholder in a project is a very easy trap for an experienced manager to set. It is much more difficult to sweep the ground to uncover it and is a model trap for doubters to ensnare your project. So getting the right landscape and environment for your project is crucial but the selection of the first candidate project does have some features to help make suitable selection.


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Beware Some Managers Bite


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