Project Practitioners > Do we really want the perfect Project?

Do we really want the perfect Project?

By Margaret de Haan


Let’s face it, many (if not most) projects are usually nightmares, not dreams.  Clients can be difficult, the budget inevitably goes south and then some unforeseen risk hits you in the side of the head and blows the chance of meeting the schedule by months.  In the past few months I have been blessed (or cursed) with a new position helping a technology company to create a Project Management process and I have been a Firefighter since I started.  I find myself asking the powers that be “can’t anything ever be easy?” “can just one thing go my way today?”  But, in total exasperation I started to think about it, and I don’t think I really WANT everything to go as planned, and here is why:


1)      Without issues, there would be no challenge – Let’s face it, some of us live for the thrill of solving problems on the fly.  Being able to think logically is helpful, but being able to make decisions that solve a problem without blowing up the project can be very satisfying, and helps to feed our sense of accomplishment.


2)      My juggling skills would get rusty – I see juggling as a skill that is required for the successful Project Manager.  To be a really great PM, juggling with at least five or six chainsaws concurrently without cutting off any important body parts I think should be a prerequisite.  There are so many other jobs out there that are better defined and more linear for the faint of heart.  Project Management is definitely not for the weak, as I am sure that you will all agree.


3)      I can sleep when I’m dead – What would I do with an entire 8 hours a night?  I would miss out on all of the late night TV gems that I have become addicted to, and I think that I would really miss seeing Jay Leno and Colin Ferguson as they are sometimes the only laughs I get in a day.  With the continued use of offshore resources in drastically different time zones, we need to be flexible with not only our work time, but our work location and process.


4)      My skin would thin out – Project Management has thickened my skin, as well as hardened my backbone.  I have toughened up so much throughout my Project Management career, I’m able to tell anyone anything without flinching.  I think when I started in IT Project Management I was a wimp, but I have the role of Project Manager to thank for my acquired lack of fear.  If I didn’t get people yelling at me on a regular basis I may revert back to being spineless, which is totally unacceptable.


5)      I wouldn’t be able to hit a bull’s eye at 8 feet – I’m quite sure that my dart skills would suffer if I didn’t have the daily aggravation of the job.  Throughout my time as a Project Manager I have learned valuable coping skills for the frustration, one of which is throwing darts at pictures of particularly difficult clients !  As most of you have probably gathered, the reason that we are paid what we are paid is directly related to the amount of stress and issues that we deal with on a daily basis, as well as with the outcomes that we are responsible for.  For most of us those coping skills are tested every single day at the office.


6)      I would miss all of the traveling – I would hate to go to my grave without having seen Wisconsin and Minneapolis in January, especially since I live in Florida!


And finally:  


7)      Work life would be incredibly boring.  Without at least some problems to work through every day that require cognitive reasoning, I figure I may as well work on the assembly line.  I’ve realized that I thrive in an environment where I get to think on my feet and problem solve, and anything short of a fast pace and I get in a funk.  Challenges keep my blood flowing and my brain active, and I live for the successes that Project work provides.


In closing and on a more serious note, this is what we’re paid for.  If projects went perfectly there wouldn’t be a need for Project Managers and we would all be out of a job.  We are paid (fairly well in my opinion) for all of the above, if Projects didn’t need managers, there would be no Project Management discipline, no PMI, no Project Connections!   And, I know I would have a lot less skills as well as challenges, and yes, fun at work.

Related Links
Sharing bad news without flinching is easier when you can keep it brief and solution-oriented. Carl Pritchard urges PMs even on troubled projects to celebrate the inconsequential. Doug DeCarlo challenges readers to be sure project management really makes you happy.

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