Meaningless Details (a story about project management)

I got this story from internet and I believe it’s worth sharing for Project Managers because most of us faced same situation during project management

This is a true story, although the details have been changed to protect the guilty parties.

I was hired as an outside consultant to manage a project for an international corporation. They were producing a new project – a multi-million dollar project that was supposed to go to market within a specific timeframe.

On the initial call with the new product team, I was introduced to the various people including the sponsor, the team leader, and the team. The sponsor turned the meeting over to the team leader and she introduced herself and then introduced the project.

“The codename for this project is ‘Ice’ because we’ll freeze out the competition when this product hits the market”. Okay, fair enough. I was the project manager of Project Ice.

We got started.

Less than a week later, we received a blanket email from the team leader. “We’ve changed the codename to ‘Project Snowstorm’ because we’re going to totally cover the market with this product.” Great! Now I was the project manager for Project Snowstorm.

We continued with the work.

Then, on our weekly team call, the team leader opened the call by saying “I’ve forgotten to tell most of you, but we’ve changed the codename to ‘Avalanche’ because we felt that it more accurately describes how we wanted to take our market by storm with this project.” So now I was the project manager for Project Avalanche.

We continued on the project.

Two days later, we got an email from the team lead: “The Senior V.P.’s don’t like the negative connotations of the term ‘avalanche’ so we’re going to give the codename a more positive spin, ‘Project Fire’ because we’re going to burn up the market!” So now I was the project manager for Project Fire.

And I continued to manage the project’s progress.

Then another email: “We’ve decided to change the codename again. ‘Project Fire’ was too general and didn’t seem like we had any focus, so we’re going to call it ‘Project Laser’.” So now I was the project manager for Project Laser.

… and on it went. The codename of the project changed 14 times. No, that is not an exaggeration or hyperbole. The project really did change codenames that many times.

If you’ve ever managed a project for another company, you know that it can be difficult to flex your project management muscle and say “enough is enough”. In the case of this project, I could have stepped in earlier but there were some political issues at play here and I needed to pick my battles (another lesson for another time).

In the end, the codenames didn’t extend the project timeline too much. But they did create a number of inefficiencies that could not be ignored. The timeline was impacted a little, and people were never sure who to talk to or where to file information or how to refer to the project because it was never clear.

To me, this is a perfect example of how a corporation can get caught up in a meaningless detail (a codename, of all things, and it had absolutely nothing to do with the final product name!) and forget the bigger picture: Completing a project successfully, on time and on budget.


One thought on “Meaningless Details (a story about project management)

  1. Hii..
    Thank u for ur usefull site, but I have a Q about R12, when Do I have to upgrade to R12, cuz i’m having 11.5.10 now?shall I go quickly to it or still i have time ?

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