Project hope

I manage project managers. I am not a good project manager, but I know one
when I see one.

Sometime a project manager will provide a status or answer a status inquiry
with the phrase “I hope” followed by some outcome.

This almost always leads me to recite the oft quoted aphorism:

“Hope is not a project strategy.”

Underlying that aphorism is a question, “What are you doing to ensure the
desired outcome?”. What steps are you taking? Who is assigned? Etc?

This is the pragmatic aspect of project management; not hope but plans and
risk management. On the other side of project management is the notion of
hope. One must believe that the plan is rational. One must maintain hope
that the objectives can be achieved on schedule. Without hope the project
becomes a “death march”.

A death march project is one where the parameters of cost, schedule and
scope cannot be adjusted, even after it is known that the plan cannot
reasonably be achieved. Resources know that the project is “screwed”, but
management refuses to admit and alter the plan.

Sometimes when the schedule is the key driver, the addition of resources is
limited by either budget or the time required to onboard new resources and
the customer’s unwillingness or inability to make scope reduction
decisions, the team knows we are screwed, but it FEELS like those
responsible for planning are not connected to reality. Asked to work late
hours and weekends, without meaningful hope of a positive outcome. That is
the hope that is important – that if I as a contributor do my best, then we
could reasonably deliver on time.

On one current project, I am trying to maintain that hope…

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