What’s Your Greatest Project Challenge?

Many of my project management students have indicated that most of their project crises can be traced back to the project’s initial definition. Others believe that most of their project problems stem from poor risk management, role confusion, and scope management. From your experience, what one single underlying cause has created the most difficult challenge in your projects? mdt


4 thoughts on “What’s Your Greatest Project Challenge?”

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    I’ve worked on several blue sky version 1.0 products where initially “the sky is the limit” but then on one very special day, it becomes clear that decisions have to get made–and some people don’t take it well.

    According to Sam Kaner of http://www.communityatwork.com, who teaches a popular workshop on getting the best thinking from a group, one of the most common problems in groups is that the leader of the group doesn’t make it clear when a decision has been made, and it’s time to move forward.

    So half the team thinks it’s still being discussed, and the other half thinks it’s been decided. The first half is seen as resistant and the second half is seen as reckless.

    Thus his recommendation is to get really clear with a group on when key decisions are made.

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    Thinking back I believe the biggest challenges for most of my projects were getting senior management to recognize the project risks and to vigorously support the ongoing project efforts. Project managers were thought as the enemy who did everything they could to unearth realities and spoil the “promises” that management and marketing had made to the customer over dinner and a couple of rounds of martinis. I actually had one senior VP constantly refer to the program office as the “engineering mafia”. It was really fun running projects and programs under that guy!!!

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    I have to confess the biggest underlying cause of problems for me is myself – I don’t ask enough questions before I start. I’m too anxious/excited to just get started. Guilty as charged!

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    Great question, Mike! I’m facilitating a project management class for admins right now and I purposely gave a nebulous and ill-defined assignment for the team project due in 7 weeks. It was about 2 weeks before students started asking detailed clarifying questions about the goal of the assignment. I find that it’s easy for me to fall into this trap, too – thinking that I know the goal, so I don’t bother the clarify the goal. That’s probably the biggest challenge I face. Lots of studies have suggested that it’s the biggest reason teams fail to achieve goals – they don’t have goals!

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