Respect Your Project — or Leave It


I’m in conversation with a client about a possible project. The Big Guy wanted to meet with me immediately, but had constrained time, so I shifted my schedule and met with him. It was clear from our conversation that he didn’t quite know what he wanted, but he did want a proposal from me. I sent in a proposal and waited … and waited … and waited. (Not an uncommon occurrence 🙂

As I’m following up on this proposal, something is crystal clear to me: The Big Guy doesn’t respect the project. I’m not sure he respects me either — because I work on projects like this. So, because he doesn’t respect the project, The Big Guy is delaying any decision-making about the project, including assigning a project manager.

The Big Guy is causing this project to fail. He doesn’t realize the project has already started, and that with his lack of people assignment or decision-making, he’s creating a project no one will want to work on. The Big Guy is a good person, but doesn’t realize what his waffling is doing to the rest of the potential project staff. He’s telling the potential project team that he doesn’t have the hour or two to start the project right, it’s ok for him to delay it. The inference is that the project is useless.

It’s possible the project has no value to the organization — but I strongly doubt it. In my opinion, this project has the ability transform the organization, and I think that’s scaring The Big Guy out of his normal strong decision-making mode.

If you’re ever scared by your projects, or think you’re working on a useless project, or are in some other state where you don’t respect your project, you have several options:

  • You can discover reasons to respect your project
  • You can ask for help in discovering reasons to respect your project
  • You can leave your project and allow the rest of the project staff to succeed with you

It’s not easy to leave a project, especially if you’re The Big Guy in charge of making the project happen. But your lack of respect for your project will cause great harm to your project. You can create a project that’s not worth anything by treating it from the beginning as if it’s not worth anything. If you want to kill the project, great. But if you do think there is value somewhere in the project, but it’s not your cup of tea, then respect your project enough to leave it, so that someone else can make the project happen. Especially if you’re The Big Guy.

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