PM Articles > Carl Pritchard > The Project Grinch

The Project Grinch

Carl Pritchard, PMP, PMI-RMP

Every good PMP likes their process a lot.

But the Grinch (who lived just above process) did not.

He hated the process, he hated the forms, he hated the Gantt charts, the risk plans, the norms.

It's tough to know why the Grinch wouldn't conform.

It could be he hated to pin down a plan. It could be he didn't want blood on his hands.

But I think the most likely reason of all is if this project failed, he might take the fall.

Whatever the reason, the plans it may be, he saw all the projects and blamed PMP.

So he pored over the charter with a deep, Grinchy frown, hating the details the team had pinned down.

It was all SMART and all signed by the sponsor and blessed. It had details that put any questions to rest. And it all referenced subplans like HR and risk. The Grinch looked at the pages, disgusted… "tsk tsk."

"They might get this done!" he'd mutter, and dread it. "They might get this done and I won't get the credit!"

Then he groused with executive sighing and moaning. "I'll call in some changes and get PMs groaning.

"If they should succeed, that just won't do at all. They'll want to hold parties and meetings and balls. Oh they'll do lessons learned and they'll archive their stuff. They'll track their successes and claim it was tough. And then they'll all ask for it… their voices they'll raise. They'll want all the credit and PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE!"

The more that Grinch thought, "I can stop this… I KNOW. I must stop success from arriving and so…"

Then he got an idea. An awful idea. The Grinch got a wonderful, awful idea. "I know just what I'll do," and he called to his aide. "I'll join all their meetings, that'll just make the grade."

So he went to their meetings and bogged them all down with suggestions for rework, in studies they'd drown. He slithered in and added items ad hoc. He told lots of war stories -- ran out the clock. He talked of past failures and crises, disasters. He told of the good days of yore with good masters. He droned on and on while the team members sighed, and he knew in a few weeks the team would have fried.

As the meeting was ending, the PM called out, "You've got other things pending, but I'm seeing some doubt. I know that you don't want this project to fail, but my team members feel like they're starting to flail. I have just the thing for the changes you want, and I've filled out this change form (in Times Roman font). I just need a signature so we'll succeed. It's all that you've asked for, it's all that we need."

And the Grinch began realizing, to his chagrin, that the PMP meant it. They wanted to win. The team was sincere in its efforts to finish. Despite his best efforts, they hadn't diminished. They were using the Gantt charts and subplans and charter. And for all of his efforts, they worked even harder. They were destined to follow the process without him. And despite his intrusion, they weren't out to doubt him. They trusted him still! And the Grinch was just floored. They gave him the credit he wanted to hoard.

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't thought through…

"Maybe projects succeed with the process pursued.

"Perhaps it's not all just superfluous fluff, and there's something of substance to PERT charts and stuff. There might be a need for a stakeholder list, a change log, a risk log; they're not all just grist for the process-addicted or anal-retentive… they might just be helpful, or useful! Inventive! They might serve a purpose," he started to see.

And the Grinch understood all the forms A to Z.

They'd become so important, he just couldn't miss them. And at the next meeting, he just wouldn't diss them. He was the first to stick to the agenda, and his personal baggage he gladly surrendered. He helped them get through it… he helped them to flourish. Their need for the process he nurtured, he nourished.

And the team how they blessed him, as their voices they raised, and they heaped it upon him, the first dollops of praise.

It's a challenge to give our old Grinches a shot. But this season just try it… it might work…

…or not.

Not all comments are posted. Posted comments are subject to editing for clarity and length.

I love your wit and sarcasm! You rock!! I have tried not to be a Grinch but a lot of these comments resemble me sometimes. Thanks for the nudge to keep it straight!! Happy Holidays!

Well played sir! Now on to the ghosts of projects past, present, and future!

Merry Christmas!


Sheer delight reading your poem! Thank you, Carl!

Very interesting!
Happy Holidays


How do you think these things up?

You're a miracle in project management and we might have to give you praise - just a dollop, mind you, and don't ask for a raise!

Thanks for the belly laughs and another creative round of infotainment!
All the very best to you and yours for a safe and Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.
Take care.

Hey Carl, very nicely done, and as you like to say before Christmas... Ho Ho Ho. See you next year!

I laughed so hard. That's you Carl, always fun.

Happy New Year!


Can't wait to read, "The WBS before Christmas"

It's so you Carl! Very creative.

Happy New Year!

Fantastic Wit! Just brilliant to boot! Happy New Year!

Wow! I'm just getting to read this now. It is classic! I'd like to pass this around! You did a great work here!

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