doomed project

Article - What to Do When You Know That Your Project is Doomed Even Before the Initiation Stage?


Imagine the following situation:

You are an experienced project manager and you have just been invited for an interview by a large company. Your skills are a perfect fit for the project the organization is about to initiate. You have been told that that the estimated duration of the project is approximately two years and the firm is willing to pay top dollar for the right talent (for the sake of the argument let us say “$150 per hour”).

You arrive for the meeting and after a long discussion you suddenly realize that the project in question is a proverbial wild-goose chase. For example, you understand that it would not deliver any value to the company (pet project of an executive), or the constraints imposed on the venture, be it time, budget or scope, will prevent the team from the successful delivery of the final product.

If these examples are too complicated or ambiguous, imagine the following conversation:

CEO: (summoning you to her office) Hey, John! We are planning on starting a brand-new product initiative here at XYZ Inc. and I want to hire you to lead this project.

PM: (interested) OK, I am listening …

CEO: (solemnly) We are planning to build a new state-of-the-art typewriter!

PM: (surprised) A typewriter???

CEO: Yes! Internal company stakeholders are very eager to co-operate with you and provide you with all the high-level features and detailed requirements of the future device. In addition, the team will be given a reasonable budget and deadline to deliver the final product. What do you say?

PM: (shocked) But it is 2016! Nobody uses typewriters nowadays!

CEO: (angered) Well, John I can’t say that I appreciate your attitude! If you don’t think that you are ready, I think I can easily find another project manager to deliver this project for our organization.

(NOTE: If you still think that the above dialogue is completely insane, just read the “The New Ashgabat Airport” case study I have written a couple of weeks ago)