Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Choosing Between Being Right and Success

Have you ever worked with someone that seemed to suck the life out of the air as he walked by? Maybe you have worked with someone with an ego so large you marveled how she could get her head through a door. In the Laws of Project Management, you are doomed to be stuck with someone who is as smooth as sandpaper and as subtle as a Three Stooges marathon. So what do you do?

You do have options. Maybe you will decide to engage in an eternal struggle with this individual throughout the life of the project so you can achieve martyrdom and sainthood. If you choose this route, you are taking the path of being right. While on this course, you will be given many opportunities to see the glaring flaws of your nemesis. You may have many conflicts and battles which you may or may not overcome after much blood letting and justifying of position. The project may fail, but that's okay because you are right.

Another path you might choose is the road called Project Success. On this road, instead of reaffirming how difficult the other individual might be you take another stance. You determine how you can work with this individual so the project can be successful, even if that means you give up being right and making the other person wrong. Ask yourself, "why is it important that this person is involved with my project"? Value is often more than the work a person provides. It could include expertise, knowledge and even political support. If you can see the value this person could add, then as the project manager, you will want to ensure that value is provided for the success of the project.

Sometimes people are not deliberately being difficult or uncooperative, they just don't see the value of working with you on the project. Remember if the value they receive from a successful project is greater than the value of aggravating you, you might have a much smoother ride than you have been experiencing.

So the bottom line comes down to what you want as a project manager. Do you want to be right or do you want the project to succeed? It is not always possible to have both, but I have found success is more satisfying than "being right".


  1. I think I'm gonna like reading your blog!

    Very interesting thoughts and a topic which I currently struggle with on a regular basis - as the managee. Our ex-military manager, who insists that he has been able to eliminate all of his military tendencies, is obviously the king in his own fantasyland. Fortunately, I report to a client supervisor or I would be long gone. The goal here is to make the client happy as much as you can within the confines of the contract. Upon meeting me he informed me that I did not act like a professional - even though he has yet to actually witness my work product. He fails to understand that if my boss isn't happy, her boss isn't happy and if her boss isn't happy, they will lose a HUGE amount of money if I leave because I know they charge more than double what I am paid. I think of things like this and have to stop myself from trying to figure him out. That never seems to work. And, as you know, I can't change him. I can only change me. So I have had a great deal of success with developing my own scenario that allows me to work with him when necessary without feeling any animosity toward his own denial about his inadequacies. This is a relatively new situation so I'm still working on it. I have had success with it in the past and I'm sure I will persevere ... eventually. In the meantime, it seems like I am crawling uphill during an avalanche!

  2. Hi! Definately going to follow this blog! As an IT consultant for the past 15 years, I have been involved in many projects as a manager and as a team member. The most frustrating thing is to get a manager who has to be "right" or a team member that does not grasp the "value". Only the few managers rise to the top and really get it and really know how to impart value...you were one of those and I loved working on your projects!!! Thanks for starting this blog!!! I look forward to many more entries!