Ever Get One Of “Those” Projects

My previous post was some therapy for me. Reflecting on the past week’s activities and how I handled them – is always good from time to time. At least, I enjoy it. Well, this post is just an extension of my therapy, but I need some help. Over the past 2+ years, my team and I have had this project keep coming up. Without going into too much detail, the team has done its due diligence twice (and each time the project has failed to meet our expectations). Failure is not a bad thing – just that we have attempted this twice, with plenty of man hours to just come up short. I view this as we now know more than we did before.

Well, this past week, we are probably going to be asked to do this yet again. My first reaction was less than positive, in fact, I think I may have said – “Do we honestly think that the third time is going to be the charm?” Followed by, “How much more time do we have to waste on this?” As the team lead, this was not a very positive way to handle the situation. I got the standard, we have new information that the product has come a long way in 6 months. We should look at it again. It is important to have an open mind.

After spending plenty of reflection on this topic. I have come to the conclusion that we will probably be doing the work all over again – for a third time – with the hope that we really will have some fruitful results. I really hope so. I am going to assign a new team lead to the project to remove any preconceived judgement from this attempt. Do I think that the previous lead will not be able to handle it, not at all. I really know that particular lead will do an awesome job. I just want to make sure to have yet another set of eyes do the job. Works for the team, management and myself.

For me personally, I will have to remain positive and insure that the project is given the right level of guidance and coaching. I can not insert my judgement onto the team. All of us, must remain unbiased when we complete this review. Expected outcome – is that the product will do completely what is needed for us to use for our internal customers. If it fails to meet those expectations, report out our findings with the necessary data.

Has anyone encountered this situation? Where your kept doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome?  Where maybe a product did get changes and is getting close to what is needed, how do you block out past failures? How do you motivate your team, when they have done this twice before?

Anything that you have for me – please comment. I am open to suggestions.

  • Benjamin Buck

    Yup, the comments work fine here.

    I think these types of projects get swept under the rug, which is why you hear so little about them — and they get tried again the same way to fail again the same way.

    Ever hear of the project to “bake a pie and a cake in the same pan?” It was Intel’s ARM ‘X-Scale’ project with onboard NOR. Of course, we just sold ARM to Marvell, x86 everywhere!!

  • Benjamin Buck

    Or to say more, they’ve written books about “those projects” (“The Mythical Man-Month”) and I suppose I have been on one — I worked on Intel 90nm NOR flash. There were a TON of unforeseen things with the 90nm node. “Those Projects” happen because we can’t see the future.

  • In the next couple of days, I will know if “that project” actually will be revisited for the third time. I have already lined up new program manager and team to do the work. If in fact this becomes real – I will need new reviewers. Would hate to have any jaded eyes on this one!

  • “That Project” has been put on life support. Seems all of the data that we gathered over the last two attempts was received with mixed reviews. The financial side – was poked at some, but seems to slowed any work, for awhile.