Impossible Projects

Yesterday, we discussed that some projects carry such great risks that they should not start! But they do.

So you’ve been nominated as project manager to deliver this impossible project.

You need to consider your next move very carefully. Do you accept or not? Do you have any choice?

You know the situation, you’ve just heard your new boss inform you “I’m sorry, we just have to do it and you are the only PM available”, or “I know, it’s an aggressive deadline, but I’m sure you’ll find a way to deliver it on time”, or “Do I have to remind you that saying no is not an option” or maybe some other phrase with similar intention.

Alternatively, you might be excited by the thought of succeeding where others would fail. You may want to make your mark on the organisation, show everyone what you are made of, that you have what it takes succeeds.

Whether you embrace the situation or live with a probable disaster, you need to take charge.

Start working with the stakeholders, get to know them, their expectations, how they are going to interact with you, the team and each other. Get a feel for any flexibility they have, if you want a chance to deliver successfully you are going to need it.

Aim to discover what the project will deliver; when it must be delivered; what resources are available (staff, technology, budget, etc.). Don’t forget to factor in the quality and governance elements that have a bearing on the deliverables. Get a ballpark estimate for these four elements and start planning.

Look at what-if scenarios. Get creative, and think outside the box. Aim to come up with options that might be acceptable to your stakeholders.

Typically stakeholders want the project to be a success, to deliver what they need.

Forcing delivery of a project that’s expected to fail is not good business sense. Your stakeholders may well be persuaded to see the benefit of tweaking the elements of the project, shaping it into something that will realistically deliver. Negotiate compromises and agreement between your stakeholders and you’ll stand a good chance in delivering this project.

Good luck.

3 responses to “Impossible Projects

    • Thanks for your comment.

      Looks like a few of us are facing the wonderful challenge of the impossible project. Those crazy times politics drive the need to deliver unattainable outcomes. Those that need to deliver these, must set realistic expectations.

      Hopefully between our two blogs we can provide our readers with useful guidance. Keep up the great work.


  1. Pingback: Mission Impossible 2 « PPMpractitioner·

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