This week’s focus: It’s easy to start a new project. You just set an objective, agree some timescales, sign-off the necessary resources and agree who is going to do what. Even in the most bureaucratic organisations – perhaps particularly in the most bureaucratic organisations – projects are being set up and launched all the time. In some businesses I visit, I think that there are more projects than there are people!
What’s far harder is to stop projects. Even when initiatives are clearly failing, or if they’re simply spinning their wheels, they refuse to die. Most people are happy to be a project midwife, but few put their hand up to be the project executioner. As a result, these initiatives trundle on, losing energy and focus and support. To misquote the aphorism, old projects don’t die, they just fade away.
In the meantime, however, these projects – I call them “zombie projects” – eat up valuable resource and time. Almost unseen, they clog up the organization, depriving it of energy and oxygen, and inhibiting progress on more important matters.
There are two solutions. First, you must be more ruthless in saying “No” to new project ideas, so that you can maintain your focus, time and energy on your most important priorities. And second, you must be even more ruthless in slaying the “zombie projects”, making sure that they are respectfully but firmly laid to rest.
Which of these two solutions would benefit your organization or team, and how could you better prevent and defeat your own zombie project apocalypse?
Off the record: Zombie by The Cranberries
What’s in your head?
In your head?
© Stuart Cross 2016. All rights reserved.