“Out of sight, out of mind”
“What have you done for me lately?”
Not just clichés, these sayings should be a constant reminder to project managers that you are only as good as your last successfully completed project or achieved milestone.
If your project was structured in a traditional manner with business value only realized near the end, you will be viewed positively as you close out that project and transition to your next. But as time passes, if that subsequent project is also approached as a waterfall project, you might start to get a much better appreciation of one of those sayings.
Our most recent experiences with an initiative are given greater weight than those which occurred much earlier in its lifetime.
Think about the last time you went on a vacation – if your most positive experience happened close to the end, you are likely to view the entire trip positively. On the other hand, if that highlight occurred early and things got progressively worse from there, in the near term, you could be forgiven for rating the overall trip as poor. Over time, perspective will likely return and we would agree that the good outweighed the bad, but that clarity will rarely dawn over the course of a few weeks.
We can’t control everything.
Issues will impact our projects in spite of our best efforts to manage risk. If our team members, customer and key stakeholders have not enjoyed the warm glow of achieving a significant milestone in a while, they are unlikely to acknowledge that this issue is just a small pothole on the road to success, and their perceptions could be soured.
You might say “Haters gonna hate”.
Unfortunately, attitude is everything.
Just think about the productivity impacts of a demoralized team, or the delays which an annoyed sponsor could subconsciously generate.
Frequent delivery of business value is the only vaccine for this disease.
Not only does this regularly prime the positivity pump, if an issue has recently impacted the project, both your team and customer will have cultivated sufficient resilience to know that further success is just a few days or weeks away.
This doesn’t mean you have to adopt agile approaches – while those align very well with the objective of continuous delivery if that is too big a change for your organization or team to stomach, figure out a different way to structure your project to generate a sequence of small wins instead of a single big bang.
Corporate economic uncertainty is the new normal – you never know when the next request for a meeting from your sponsor is to inform you that your project is getting cancelled or placed on hold.
With such uncertainty, wouldn’t YOU want to feel good about successes achieved up till that point?