Fighting Fires While Your Project Burns

Aug 18, 2019

So here’s the question… what do you do when your project is out of control? When scope creep has the better of you, your budget’s shot to hell, and delivery was three months back? And – perhaps worst of all – when none of your project managers can tell you where it’s going wrong, where it’s going to land and what it’s going to cost?

The scary thing is, this isn’t an unusual question. It’s a situation most of our clients have been in. It’s a really rough place to be. Their credibility’s on the line, and just when they’re needed most, their peers are losing confidence in them. So, here’s what most people would do.

Fight the fire.

You’re going to need a better hose…

It’s a natural reaction. Especially on large complex projects, where delivery is all. The temptation to forget about the day job, roll up the sleeves and pour water over your issues is almost overwhelming. And, let’s face it. In the short term, quite satisfying.

But there’s a problem with that reaction. It fails to address the real issue… if your project’s got to this place, you’re in real trouble. You’re past the point where a fire hose can achieve anything. In fact, playing whack a mole on a project of this size is only digging a deeper hole, getting you further into a mess you’re just not fixing.

Here’s why, at this point, your interventions will do more harm than good. Your delivery team will resent your getting into the weeds. Micro-management isn’t the solution. They’re burned from long weekends, overtime, nights trying to solve issues they can’t understand. And asking the incumbent PM to lead a recovery won’t get you anywhere. They’re the lead who lost the team, couldn’t tell you how things had got to this place. And don’t have the foggiest on how to turn things around.

The value of stepping back 

So, what do you need? How do you navigate this challenge? If you’re brave enough it becomes obvious. You need a fresh viewpoint – someone who can give you the warts and all view of the issues you face.

That’s why the single most valuable action our clients take is appointing Luminate as their independent recovery specialist. Luminate deliver the view they need, illustrating the path forward. We separate emotions from facts to get to the heart of the problem. Experienced and skilled, we know how to turn a project around. Appointing us sends a clear message to the project team and the wider business. Correction of the problem is now owned, and being taken seriously.

And the best bit? Appointing us takes you back out of those weeds. Get’s you back into your day job, doing what you do best. Our intervention might be the best decision you make this week.