Recovering troubled projects

When i recovered the first project about ten years ago i did not know this kind of projects are called ‘troubled’. Couple of years latter i enrolled in a training called “Recovering troubled projects’ by PMI where the ‘Aha!” moment descended upon me: this is what i did! i recovered a troubled project! And the professional pride went up 10 points :).

The recovery of a troubled project is very much an emergency room type of execution:

1. assess the status of the project to identify reasons of failure and bottlenecks in both the internal and external environment;

2. based on the diagnosis, prepare and agree a recovery plan,

3. execute,

4. monitor,

5. follow-through to the objective set. With a cake and a bottle of champagne, if that’s in order.

Recovering a troubled project requires twice the effort and the commitment on all sides:  the team, the sponsor, the client. It requires trouble-shooters abilities. A project manager will also have to deal with a likely low-morale of the team, if the team is still there. Or a new team, with its own – unknown – dynamics.

If you are looking for inspiration:


Project Management on remote control: relationship building

– Hi! Where are you?

– at work.

– what are you doing?

– seating behind my desk.

If a project manager is at the answering end in this dialogue, i would become worried.

Projects lives are outside project manager’s office. A site to inspect. A group of people to meet. A team’s office to go to. We live in an era where more and more project work is done long distance – by e-mail or by phone, or “on remote control”, as i call them. A project manager cannot really barge into the team’s room, when located miles away. Unless he/she has super powers to get there in a blink of an eye or can teleport the team.

In today’s globalisation, “relationship building, paradoxically, becomes more crucial than ever”, the authors of the “The New Leaders” book believe. Since working on remote control projects, my awareness of it became even more acute. I am on email at least 75% of time. When signs of potential misunderstandings arise, i pick up the phone or call for a skype call.

I also have created a tradition of “Friday Delight”. It is an exchange by email with members of the team on a variety of issues of common interest, for example, highlights of a training they went on. Or i just ask them to send to all their favourte tune of the week, inspired by Taylor “The Project manager who smiles”. It’s a good indicator of their mood, usually. Through Friday Delight, we also learn about team members’ important life events, such as marriage for instance. I found that it builds a sense of rapport. If for some weeks i do not initiate an email with ” Friday Delight ” in the subject line, i get messages from members of the team reading ” i miss Friday Delight”.

Stay close. Build relations. Enjoy it together.



The 4 Types of Project Manager – re-post

I came across this intriguing article “The 4 Types of Project Manager” by Carsten Lund Pedersen and Thomas Ritterv in Harvard Business Review.

According to this article, the four types of project managers are:

  1. Gambler
  2. Prophet
  3. Executor
  4. Expert

The audience of the article is top executives.The article claims any organisation would need a few of each to identity and pursue growth opportunities and that it is the executives duties to identify the right type of project managers for the types of projects to be implemented.

I do not like categories and i am biased when it comes to project managers categories (clearly! exclaims my professional pride). Thanks to Daniel Kahneman (“Thinking, fast and slow” book) i understand that it is a psychological fact – to judge and categorise. It has to do with human brain biases. Putting aside my initial reaction to categories, after having read the description of the four types i realised that i a might be mutating as a project manager. I can be any and all at the same time. Almost a self-proclaimed Wonder Project Manager (you get the self-ironic tone here).

Reading it from the project manager’s perspective, the article gives ammunition to project managers when in a position to ask for a particular project to be assigned to them. Enjoy reading and enjoy managing your projects with the best of your skills!

The 4 Types of Project Manager

JULY 27, 2017

Assessment: Are You Taking the Time Off That You Need? Re-post

To all auditors friends on vacation:

In an auditors firm: on Monday evening at 6pm one of auditors would turn of his computer and leave. Everyone else was too busy to notice. He did the same on Tuesday at 6pm. Colleagues exchanged looks. On Wednesday, when he was about to turn off his computer, one of colleagues asked pretentiously:

– what are you doing? We are watching you since Monday.  How can you leave at 6 pm?

– i am on leave since Monday!

To all project managers friends on leave:

– mom, aren’t you late for work?
– i’ll be on time. It’s fine whenever i get there. I am on leave.
My vacation this year 🙂 Moral of this post: do what i preach, not what i do.

Thanks for the inspiration:

Harvard Business Review


Assessment: Are You Taking the Time Off That You Need?

Amy Gallo

14 August 2017

How to Work with Someone Who’s Always Stressed Out – re-post

At my last medical check-up the doctor asked me to rate my level of stress from 1 to 10. It was a 5 for me.

Projects dynamics create premisses for stress. Self-management, team-management, stakeholders management, deadlines, milestones, critical paths bring presure and be inheritely stressful. It is a project manager’s job to monitor his/her own level of stress and the level of stress of team members to identify signs of burn-out and look for preventive remedies.

This requires a number of emotional inteligence competences and extra care. For inspiration, i read The New Leaders: Transforming the Art of Leadership by Daniel Goleman, Richard E. Boyatzis, Annie McKee.

When stress is unavoidable and it becomes part of daily work life, you can find here useful advice provided by Rebecca Knight, in Harvard Business Review, 7 August 2017. with some Do and Don’t.

Slow down. Manage with care.

Listen to Imany:

Oren Yakobovich: Hidden cameras that film injustice in the world’s most dangerous places | TED Talk – re-post

A Highly admirable Project for change. Manage with care, prioritise the security of change agents, work with the most vulnerable people and affected voiceless communities are only a few of this video highlights.


To see is to believe, says Oren Yakobovich — which is why he helps everyday people use hidden cameras to film dangerous situations of violence, political fraud and abuse. His organization, Videre, uncovers, verifies and publicizes human-rights abuses that the world needs to witness.