From limbo to liberation: Moving work-in-progress to the work-finished list

By Michelle LaBrosse, PMP, Chief Cheetah and Founder, Cheetah Learning

We all have one hiding over there in the groan zone. It’s the unfinished project that lives in a strange sort of limbo. As Nassim Nicholas Taleb reminds us in The Black Swan, the longer a project goes unfinished, there is an exponential increase in the time to finish the project. Sound familiar?
 
So, you see them lurking there getting dusty and forlorn, what should you do about them? How can you move these projects from limbo to liberation (aka completion)?
 
Here’s my Project Liberation Check List:
 
  1. Look at all your unfinished projects. Which ones are still relevant? What’s important, and what no longer matters?
 
  1. What can be recycled?  Those projects that have expired or no longer matter can still be useful. Look at them, and see if any of the project assets can be reused somewhere else. For example, were there any lessons learned that you can reapply? Why did these projects stall, and what put them on the back burner, and could you have prevented it? Also, go through your documentation, and pull out any golden nuggets such as charts or research or any data you can build on.
 
  1. Choose the projects you’re going to finish. Once you’ve chosen the projects you are going to finish, then you’re going to reboot them – just like your overworked computer. However, this reboot is different from all the others, because you are going to finish this project in three months. Three is a magic number here. Why? Because in three months so much changes.
 
  1. During your Project Reboot, here are things you need to look at and probably change: 
·         Your goals
·         Your project plan
·         The project schedule and cost baseline
·         The project team
 
Key questions to ask:
 
Has any of the technology that’s important to this project changed? Are you sure? Talk to your best friends in IT, and consult with them to make sure.
 
Has the strategic direction of the organization changed? Is there new management, a merger or acquisition, or any new threats or opportunities? While this project was in limbo, did any key things in the environment change? This is important because if you lob the project back out there without considering the changes, it will flounder again.
 
  1. Rally the troops around this liberation. It’s important to get your team excited and let them know you’re clearing the decks of the old projects so your team can focus on the projects that are most important.
 
Why do we care about those projects in limbo? Because a bunch of unfinished projects suck the lifeblood out of organizations and keep us from moving forward.  For the Project Manager, unfinished projects are our nemesis. We need to tackle them, evaluate them, recycle their assets or finish them.
 
And just like life, when you look back, what is the difference between success and failure? It’s often crossing the finish line. See you there. I’ll be the one cheering loudly.  
 
Chief Cheetah Podcast Is Yours for the Downloading
Want to hear what Michelle LaBrosse, PMP, and Chief Cheetah has to say about project completion? Download our podcast at http://podcast.cheetahlearning.com/podcastgen/ and hear the words straight from the Cheetah’s mouth.
 
About Cheetah Learning and the Know How Network
The Know How Network is a monthly column written by Michelle LaBrosse, the founder and Chief Cheetah of Cheetah Learning. Distributed to hundreds of newsletters and media outlets around the world, the Know How Network brings the promise, purpose and passion of Project Management to people everywhere. Visit www.cheetahlearning.com to learn more about Cheetah PM, the fastest way to learn about Project Management and get your PMP.  You can also get your career in gear withCheetahWare, free Project Management tools.
 
About the Author
Michelle LaBrosse, PMP, is the founder of Cheetah Learning, the author of the Cheetah Success Series, and a prolific blogger whose mission is to bring Project Management to the masses.
 
Cheetah Learning is a virtual company with 100 employees, contractors, and licensees worldwide. To date, more than 30,000 people have become “Cheetahs” using Cheetah Learning’s innovative Project Management and accelerated learning techniques.  
 

You may like these other stories...

By Michael Alter Participating in social media is rapidly becoming a necessity for businesses. In 2013, we're seeing discussions among business owners shifting away from why to participate to where and how to get...
By Jeff Davidson You've had those days: nothing is working and your frustration is mounting. Resilient individuals, however, manage to find their way back on track. They apply ingenuity to daily tasks, long-term...
By Curtis C. Verschoor, CMACourt cases and events involving whistleblowing are appearing in news headlines with greater frequency, and awareness about the importance of speaking up, when witnessing wrongdoing continues to...

Already a member? log in here.

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Oct 21Kristen Rampe will share how to speak and write more effectively by understanding your own and your audience’s communication style.
Oct 22This webinar will include discussions of important issues in AU-C 800, Audits of Financial Statements Prepared in Accordance with Special Purpose Frameworks.
Oct 23Amber Setter will show the value of leadership assessments as tools for individual and organizational leadership development initiatives.
Oct 30Many Excel users have a love-hate relationship with workbook links.