Still stuck, find a project that is stuck and save it

“Problems are only opportunities in work clothes.”
~Henry Kaiser

Yesterday I was attending a meeting where folks discussed a list of projects that weren’t going well and brainstormed what to do about them.  It got me to thinking, if  others are passing you on the career ladder, a good option to improve your chances of moving up may be to turn around a floundering project.

So, how do you find a stuck project?  Here are some ideas based on the projects being discussed in the meeting.

  1. Look for a project or task everyone hates
  2. Look for projects that are still on the books but have taken at least a year, so far
  3. Look for sacred cows-those things that are that way, because they have always been that way
  4. Look for projects that frustrate your boss (meaning, he or she complains about them)
  5. Look for projects that just stopped with no apparent reason
  6. Look for things your organization does that your competition or industry stopped doing
  7.  Ask yourself and your colleagues why each project is being done.  Look for projects where nobody or few people know why the project is being done

So you’ve found a stuck project, now what do you do with it?  Here are four of the better ideas that came from the brainstorming.

  1. Kill it. Find a way to stop the project and free up its resources.  Be careful.  This may take some tact and careful planning.  Sometimes projects are stuck because they are the pet project of someone powerful or influential.  In many cases that person doesn’t want to admit the project isn’t going anywhere and nobody wants to step forward and suggest it be dismantled.  In these cases, if you can find a way to tactfully stop the bleeding, you may be a hero to the company and the person who owned the project.
  2. Finish it. Volunteer to organize the final push and the resources necessary to finish the project.
  3. Automate it. Look for ways to take the manual processes that are dreaded and make them happen automatically.
  4. Outsource it. If the deliverables of a project aren’t part of the core services of your organization why not find another organization willing to do provide for a reasonable cost?

What other ideas can you add?

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