Dropping People when the Job’s Not Done

The last sprint to the end of the project is always an exciting time for the team has worked so hard to get there.

They have fought through all the trials and tribulations, the late nights, the early milestones (and the late ones).

Through the good and the bad – they have stuck together, making it out as one cohesive team, stronger for what they have gone through.  When that final push comes, they are all jumping in to help to see it go out the door and the first user log on – not matter your role on the project, everyone is doing everything they can to see it go out the door.

It’s an incredible feeling of teamwork and accomplishment and one I look forward to when shipping.

This is how a project should end.

But sometimes we get overzealous and anxious as we get close to the finish line, we start seeing other projects coming in behind is and think it would be a better idea to move people around and onto new things.

Same amount of work, but now less people – not a good combination.

You can read this and think – “Well that’s just plain silly, I would never do that” – but we all have at some point in our careers.

If there is any reason to not do this – think of those feelings when you shipped something that you worked hard on for the last six months – would you want to have those feelings of success and accomplishment be replaced with feelings of not being able to complete all of the project’s bugs on time?  Or being late because the team responsible for deploying has no longer in the know as to when your project was going out the door?

Let the team finish the project, then move them around – it’s worth more to you in the long run.

Project Support

Getting a project off the ground, especially when it is…
  • Something new
  • Personal
  • Represents a big change in direction
  • Goes against the status quo?
Is never easy.
We get down on ourselves, we feel like we aren’t making enough progress, it doesn’t work the first time, etc, etc.
That’s where Project Support comes in.
Project Support is someone (or ones) that are there to support you in making it happen.  Now don’t confuse Project Support with someone who is aligned with your vision and goals and votes with you at a meeting.
No Project Support is very different.
The Project Supporter is there to push you to keep going, makes sure you’re on the right path, asks you the hard questions as to whether you are getting done and maybe provides some feedback.  They aren’t there to do it or stand up at a meeting and pat you on the back, no no, they are there to make sure you get it done, in some shape or form.
In the office or out, we all need these people in our lives, you can’t always do it by yourself, don’t learn this too late.

Give your Project a Kick Start

Have you ever encountered that point in your project where it is simply dragging… maybe for a good reason, maybe for bad… but it’s dragging… on… and on… and on…
And it’s at the point where people are starting to go through the motions of working on it instead of being really invested in it.
If this sounds like a project you’re on, then your project needs a Kickstart to breathe life back into it…
  • Shake up your status meetings – does everyone need to be there?  No, boot the rest out and let them work on the project.
  • Has your feature line up become stale and outdated?  Clean ii up?
  • Are the groups status reports getting weak?  Hold a contest for most energetic report?
  • Running with a lot of showstoppers?  Have a contest for best showstopper of the week?
  • Bring in the client and give feedback on the pilots – yes, not you, the client, no prep, no talk – just ask them for their honest feedback.
  • Launch a bug finder campaign for QA to see who can find the most bugs.
  • Change up your weekly reports.
  • Send your larger a team a weekly newsletter on the awesomeness of your project and how your team is really kicking tail.
  • Draw a mascot.
  • Put the mascot on t-shirts
  • Give the project a code name.
  • Hold your next status meeting in the break room with tea and crumpets?
  • Everyone online?  Encourage everyone to be in the weirdest place for the next project meeting.
Do something, anything that immediately breathes a blast of fresh air, life, and humour that seeks to not only inject some fun into the project but perhaps shake things up with team rosters, workloads, client engagement, trial results, etc, etc.

Who can give a Kickstart?  Anybody, the point is to simply give it a swift kick and get it going again with the excitement of when it first started.

How I feel when I finish a Project

Without a doubt, this is how I feel at the end of every project, big or small when every last detail I’ve wanted to complete is now done and working as I hoped. 

The guy in the red hood that’s the inner voice telling you it’s good enough, but you know it’s not, you know there is something still left to do, left to give to make it complete in your heart.

The girl at the end, that’s the next project coming around the corner that I’m dying to start.

How Great Projects are Delivered?

If you were to start today on a new project, no codebase, no people, no resources, no process, no nothing, where would you start?

Where would you start that would make the greatest impact?

This isn’t a trick question – this isn’t about having the latest and the great tools at your disposal, the tiger team of people or infinite money – simply where would you start.

Before, I’d bring in the team, or think about the process, or understand the platform I’d start at the most basic element.

  • What’s the problem we are trying to solve?
  • Who are we trying to help?
  • Why are we trying to help them?
  • What do they need from us?
  • How are we going to be able to help them?
  • How are we going to make a difference?
  • When is this needed?

I don’t need all the requirements flushed out, I don’t need to know we’ll be doing demos in 2 weeks or when our scrums will be held.

All I need is to understand the problem, and the context surrounding the problem.

If I can understand that, if I can get a clear vision there, then the next step will define what skills I need from the team, what process I’ll follow and how I’ll get there.

But if I don’t understand the problem, I’m already building something around nothing.