06 March 2015

Truth revealed: 7 things books don't say about PROJECTS

We have always been told that practice beats the theory. When speaking about projects, a very complex and innovative tool of our modern work, the gap is even bigger and many aspects are still unrevealed.

Google: Projects are ...

1. Baby projects
There is a very close link between the team or the person that came with the project idea and the "baby project". Nobody else could understand better what the "baby" wants or should do. Obviously it has both advantages and downsides: by one side, the project initiator(s) are extremely motivated to make their dreams real, sometimes they might not even need a monetary compensation for their work (this is speciffic for non profit work, but also for some corporations when employees working on projects are not paid for their overtime). A possible downside could be the fact that the initiators take everything personal while speaking about "their project". It makes sometimes difficult to assure the team spirit and to let everybody express their opinion in a democratic way.

2. Carrying on project is like carrying a baby
Project workers are stressed and change their mood easily and drastically. In a moment, they are stressed, nervous and panicked. Then somebody just finds a funny picture like the one below and everybody starts to laugh and got distracted from the stressing reports.
PS: Don't try at work!
And of course, projects get more and more expensive with their "age"(duration).

3. Behind the projects there are humans
Gabriel BREZOIU, Project Manager
And this is actually the biggest challenge of a project. Once, a colleague of mine confessed: "projects would be very easy if they would be managed by machines and not by humans". And she was right! Humans are complicated: they are sometimes shy, arrogant, brave, stupid, mean, tough, though, intelligent, creative, open minded, close minded, flexible, intuitive, factual, happy, sad, excited, depressed, concerned, reliefed, passionate, routined, innovative, strong, weak, ... humans are ... humans!
The human side of each project is the main reason why the implementation is different than the planning and the possible causes could be:

  • people come and leave for different reasons;
  • people have new ideas and sometimes update the project to the best of their abilities;
  • people are faster or lazier than expected. Some of them also practice "procrastination", yes, repeat after me:  

  • people have a life. Believe it or not, some people manage to have a life outside the project and that can sometimes impact their productivity and concentration.
4. Blame on me
Do you remember those stupid university projects when you had to do all the hard work and in the end everybody took the merits? Well, it is sometimes the same in other projects. However, it comes also a downside: it something goes wrong, everybody will blame you.
How to deal with this?
Professionals learn step by step how to express their professional opinion without ofending others. Then, get ready not to accept everybody else telling you what "you have to do" unless you fully agree with this. A competent organisation should allow you to express your ideas and avoid frustrations caused by this. Not the case? Maybe you have to move on.

5. Projects are (not) for superheroes
Hahaha, that's what I thought when I was 17. Fact: projects are for everybody
In the way our society changes, projects are starting to dominate each and every industry thanks to their capacity to focus on certain particular aims, to have a better control on resources and to deliver clear outputs.
Moreover, there are certain techniques that apply regardless of the kind of projects you are dealing with: designing activities, planning and controlling resources, time management and nevertheless evaluation and reporting.

6. You can't make everybody happy
Your project engages a variety of stakeholders (your colleagues, your partner organisations, your beneficiaries, public authorities, competition, media etc.). Don't expect them all to be happy with your project regardless of your efforts. But expect the unexpected. For example:
  • politicians coming for your event, speaking about politics, networking, showing up in pictures, giving interviews and then, 2 weeks after you realise they would never do what they said;
  • journalists coming for your fancy location and for cookies and no media coverage will show up after the event;
  • participants registering for your free event and then 40% of them don't showing up;
7. Remember the bests 
3 years after you will only remember the lessons you learned after this project. Our memory puts a special focus on the things that developed ourselves.
You will not remember the fights you had with your colleagues, with the guys in the tax office or the hundreds of e-mails you sent and you haven't been replied back. But you will remember, the things you are proud of: your ACHIEVEMENTS!