I’m sure we’ve all had a jar that just won’t open no matter what you try. You tap on the lid, you run it under hot water, you use any tool available to get a bigger grip; still, the jar won’t budge. The more you try, the more your hands get tired and the chances of the jar opening get slimmer. Then there’s the dreaded voice in the background saying: “You want me to try?” You attempt to ignore that voice and protect your ego but your biceps are bulging. For those that put their egos aside and hand over the jar, more often than not, the jar opens with the same methods you were using. It just needed that last little bit of help!
Business projects sometimes follow the same storyline; no matter how hard you try and what tools you use, projects can get derailed. Too often we see corporations begin projects that never make it across the finish line because they didn’t “hand over the jar” when it wasn’t opening. It’s not easy to ask for help when you firmly believe all the efforts required to be successful have been exhausted.
Corporations that consistently attain return on project investments are able to recognize the early signs of a “jar that won’t open” and ask for help. They put a corrective action plan in place before the project reaches “imminent failure” status. To identify projects at risk, look for these key signs:
- Management and project team vision and goals are drifting apart
- Project will no longer achieve its intended return on value
- Significant discrepancies over expected results
- Actual costs exceed budget, causing a severe risk to the project’s ROI
- Significant reinvestment is required and budgets must be reevaluated
- Agreed upon deadlines for key milestones are being missed
- Key resources and / or SMEs are exhausted or have left the project team
- Serious tensions exist within the project team
- Project status is not communicated (no good news to share!)
Next time you’re stuck with a jar that won’t open, remember your initial goal was to get it open (regardless of who does the opening). Maximize your chances by asking for help if and when you need it!