Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Project Grinch by Carl Pritchard

PMlessonsLearned.com members:
You all may remember that Carl Pritchard spoke on our call for Episode#41 back on 2008-07-17 on the topic of "Risk Language and Getting Specific"

Well, he recently wrote this witty post titled "The Project Grinch" and it made me laugh. So, I asked him if I could share it with you all.  If you know Carl, of course he obliged. It probably would have been better had I found this closer to Christmas, but I think you'll all enjoy it just the same. Read it with similar cadence as the story of "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" (by Dr. Seuss) to get the full effect.

The Project Grinch…

Every good PMP likes their project a lot.

But somewhere in management’s a Grinch who does not.

They hate project process, they hate all the forms, they hate all the Gantt charts, the risk plans, the norms. It’s tough to know why they don’t want to conform.

It could be they don’t like to pin down their plans. It could be they don’t want the blood on their hands.

But I think the most likely reason of all is that for all the projects they won’t take the fall.

Whatever the reason, the plans it may be, they look at the projects and blame you, PMP.

Poring over your charter with a deep, Grinchy frown, they don’t like the way the details you’ve pinned down.

It’s all SMART and all signed by the sponsor and blessed. It’s got details that put any questions to rest. And it references subplans like HR and risk. They look at the pages disgusted…”tsk tsk”

“They might get this done!” is how they all said it. “They might get this done and I won’t get the credit!”

They then grouse with executive sighing and moaning. “I’ll call in some changes and get PMs groaning.”

“If they should succeed that just won’t do at all. They’ll want to hold parties and meetings and balls.

Oh they’ll do lessons learned and they’ll archive their stuff. They’ll track their successes and claim it was tough.

And then they’ll all ask for it…their voices they’ll raise.

They’ll want all the credit and PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE!”

The more that Grinch thought, I can stop this…I KNOW. I must stop success from arriving and so…

Then he got an idea. An awful idea. The Grinch got a wonderful, awful idea. I know just what I’ll do,” and he called to his aide. “I’ll join all their meetings, that’ll just make the grade”.

So he went to their meetings and bogged them all down. Suggestions for rework, in studies they’d drown. He’d slither on in and add items ad hoc. He’d tell lots of war stories—run out the clock. He’d talk of past failures and crises, disasters. He’d tell of the good days of yore with good masters. He would chat on and on while the team members sighed, and he knew in a few weeks the team would have fried.

As the meeting was ending, the PM called out. “You’ve got other things pending, but I’m seeing some doubt. I know that you don’t want this project to fail, but my team members feel like they’re starting to flail. I have just the thing for the changes you want, and I’ve filled out this change form (in Times Roman font). I just need a signature so we’ll succeed. It’s all that you’ve asked for, it’s all that you need.”

And the Grinch began realizing to his chagrin, that the PM had meant it. They wanted to win. The team was sincere in its efforts to finish. Despite his best efforts, they hadn’t diminished. They were using the Gantt charts and subplans and charter. And for all of his efforts, they had worked even harder. They were destined to follow the process without him. And despite his intrusion, they weren’t out to doubt him. They thought that he had their best interests at heart. They gave him the credit he wanted to thwart.

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t thought through…

“Maybe projects succeed with the process pursued”

“Perhaps it’s not all just superfluous fluff, and there’s something of substance to PERT charts and stuff. There might be a reason for a stakeholder list; a change log, a risk log, they’re not all just grist…

“for the process-addicted or anal-retentive…they might just be helpful, or useful! Inventive!”

“They may have a purpose,” he started to see. And he understood why all the forms A to Z

Had become so important, he just couldn’t miss them. And at the next meeting, he just wouldn’t diss them. He would be the first one to stick to the agenda. And his personal baggage he knew he’d surrender. He’d help them get through this…he’d help them to flourish. Their need for the process he nurture, he’d nourish.

And the team how they blessed him, as their voices they raised, and the heaped it upon him, the first dollops of praise.

It’s a challenge to give our old Grinches a shot. But this season just try it…it may work…or not.
First published on ProjectConnections.com. Used with the Permission of the Author. Carl Pritchard can be reached at carl @  carlpritchard . com He welcomes your comments