Project Management

It’s like this:

You want us to run a race for you. It’s a fast race and it’s hard race. And although we’re trained to run - we’re really good over a set distances, over specific range of terrains. You like us but you don’t like that terrain. You want us to go cross country rather than by the road - shortest distance between two points, and all that. We can do that, but it’s going to take us longer, we say. You don’t want us to take longer, in fact, you want us to break all our previous records and do it for the same cost of materials a road race would cost. 

You’re a sweet talker. A charmer. We’re eager to please. Ready for a challenge, we express doubts about the success of finishing, let alone breaking any records, but decide “Hells bells! Let’s give it our best shot - we might just be able to do this.”

On your marks; get set; GO!

We’re off, we’re running. The terrain is uneven but we’re managing so far. We bought new shoes to suit the environment. We changed our carbo-loading routine to account for the extra energy needed to clamber over rocks and rivers. We’re full of energy - we’re powering ahead.

Then one of our new shoes breaks - the left one. Falls the fuck apart and we have one bare foot and one shoed foot. Have you ever tried to run on *any* surface with only one shoe? it slows us all the heck down. One of our team breaks from the race to go to the store to buy new shoes. We can’t just buy left ones, because shoes come in pairs, right? so that’s our shoe budget blown to smitherines. We continue, hobbling unevenly along - blisters on one foot, the other raw from the rough unpaved ground underfoot: but we’re still moving forward. 

We’re using a lot more energy than anticipated now too - not sure how that will affect us on the race but we’re still pushing ahead.

Our teammate comes back with new shoes for everyone in the race. We stop for the amount of time it takes to put new shoes on. He bought socks too so now our feet are ensconced in comfort, support, and reliability. We power on. Renewed in our desire to get to the finish breaking all previous records. The hope in our hearts powering us forward.

But we’re slowing down again. The terrain is even more rocky and uphill than the map you showed us indicated. Our calorie intake is below what we need for this amount of effort. It feels more and more like we’re running up a continuous, rocky incline.

So you notice how hard the going is for us. You also notice that at our rate of forward momentum, we’re not going to break those records you wanted us to break. We watch you drive to the finish line, get out of your car, and move the finish line away another kilometre.  After driving back to where we are still running forward you say “We saw you weren’t on track to break any records, so we’ve moved the finish line and you have more time to get there. Also, wear these coats - now you have more time to get to that further finish line, you can have more drag.”

Okay so we have a burst of speed. Our shoes are hold well, energy is pretty good but not great, but the heat and drag from the coats isn’t helping - neither is the fact we need to find the extra calories to run the extra kilometre.

But we keep going. Hope in our hearts, and all that jazz.

Then you move the finish line again, adding add hats and gloves.

We’re struggling - still moving forward but bogged down with the extra layers of clothing, and the ability to maintain energy is really starting to look like it’s going to be a real factor.

We run day, we run night, we are running on empty, but we keep running.

Then you move the finish line again. Even further away - and add skipping ropes for us to jump while wearing coats and hats and running and we’re tired and we have nothing left.

Then you move the finish line by 10 more kilometres.


“With all this extra distance to run” you say, “now you’re used to the rocks, the incline, the extra layers of clothing and the physical challenge of jumping rope while running cross country - we think you can put on eyepatches, and not use torches during the night while running. Okay? GO!”

We’re still moving forward - but our hearts are broken. We have nothing left to give. We gave you everything. Now we’re just running. Forward. Hot. Hopeless. We’ll finish, but we’ll be broken and not much good for anything else anymore.

Groundhog Day

Tell me why you didn't achieve this KPI?

Because the stakeholder working group decided to move this project to next year. I couldn't achieve the KPI for this year on a project that was no longer within the time period. We did talk about it at the time and you agreed that the KPI would move to next year's development program.

Oh right, thanks.


Remind me, why didn't we do this KPI?

Because the project was moved to next year instead of this year. So we couldn't achieve the goad this year. But we will next year.

Oh right, thanks.


I know I've asked you this before, but why didn't you achieve this KPI?

Because the working committee moved the project by a year. So the KPI was no longer valid for this year.

Oh right, thanks.

Would you like me to put that in an email so you have it in writing?

No, no. That's okay. I've got it now.


Hey, hi.


So this KPI here wasn't achieved.

That's right.

Can you tell me why?


Yeh, why didn't this get done?

The working committee moved the project to next year. So the KPI couldn't happen this year. Next year, it can be done when the project gets done.

Oh right. Thanks.


Remind me again why this KPI wasn't done?

I sent that to you in an email the last time you asked about this.

Oh I know, but just tell me. I'll find the email again later.

The project was moved from this year to next. So the KPI has had to move with it. No project this year, no KPI this year. Next year the project will be done and the key performance indicator will be achieved.

Right. Ok, thanks.

You've asked me about this quite often. Is there something about it you don't understand?

No, no. I understand it. I'm clear. That's great.



My line manager wants to know why this KPI hasn't been achieved.


Can you tell me why?


See here where it says you were going to do this thing, and it wasn't done? Why is that?


Can you hear me?

The stakeholder working committee decided that the project would be moved to next year, so the KPI couldn't be achieved because it's part of the project. Therefore it was not done this year. It will be done next year, when the project is done. You agreed that the KPI would shift from this year's development plan to next year's development plan.

Oh, right. Yes, I remember something about that.

Would you like me to resend the email with all the details.

Oh, no, I'll have it somewhere.

*resends email* would you like to have a chat about the KPI to be really clear on what happened?

No, no, I'm across it now. 

HR hotline

If we made a website that had a blog, and video, and podcasts. Do you think that would be a good website? 

Ahh.. sounds like it could be?

Yes, I thought so too. Could you do it?

Ahh.. what do you mean?

Could you make the site? with video and a blog and podcasts. Maybe a forum too?

The thing is, each one of those little words like "blog" has so much work involved in it. For instance, who is the blogger? or bloggerS for that matter. And what are they going to write about? and how often? and who's going to chase them up when they miss their deadlines? and wrangle the editorial calendar so they have topics to write about? and what do we do when no one produces their blogs because it's not a priority because of all their other tasks are more important?

So you don't think you could do it?

It sounds like you may need a dedicated resource to run this project.

And that's not you.

Not with my current work load, no. I currently do the same thing with two dedicated days per week. You could dedicate another two of my days on this new project and shift my current work to someone else, if you wanted me to do it.

So we need to hire a web person?

Well you need to hire someone who has a vision of what this site can be, a focus on the problems it is solving, a ability to research what the audience needs, and a drive to see the project through while managing stakeholders and juggling providers and contractors.

So I need to hire a comms person?

Would a comms person necessarily have the skills to manage all those facets? probably not - they're probably good at the writing, some parts of the content. May not be as web savvy as you need them to be when dealing with videographers or podcasters or maybe they're more news based and having to write script for podcasts is out of their field? You need to find the right person.. someone like [awesome girl in marketing] who can just rise to all the challenges.

So I need to hire a project manager?

Mostly you need to figure out what this webpage is about.

Ok, great. I'll talk to HR and see who's available.