A lot of what I’ve written has focused on the challenges of our profession that it can be easy to lose sight of upside which exists on nearly all projects.
While I still recommend that companies should hire project managers who have the wisdom to have learned lessons from the scars on their backs, the dark side of such hard experience gained is cynicism and the inability to exploit the upside on the risk curve.
I’m not advocating unfettered optimism – I’m sure you’ve worked with more than enough sponsors and team members who demonstrate that failing!
It’s always a good idea to assess and prepare for the potential down side of a situation, but unless you truly believe that you are cursed, you should expect that for every time your toast lands butter side down, it is also likely to land right side up once in a while.
The calluses which build up in battle-hardened project managers can, if left unchecked, result in outcomes such as delaying decision-making in the hopes of eliminating all uncertainty but resulting in missed opportunity, losing the trust of team membrs by crushing their creativity during brainstorming or design sessions, and by infuriating key stakeholders by constantly pushing back on requests or changes.
So what are some ways you can overcome this?
- Request a trusted colleague to let you know when you might be becoming too much of a curmudgeon
- Start off team meetings by asking team members to share one positive thing which occurred since the last meeting
- Keep an opportunities log – use it to record potential wins
- Start with “why” instead of starting with “but” – be mindful of how much you use the latter word when someone asks you for something
We spend so much effort in building a case supported by the thousands of things which could go wrong that we ignore the ways in which it could be right.
“When a man is convinced he’s going to die tomorrow, he’ll probably find a way to make it happen. The only one who can turn this around is you.” – Guinan