Deferring Failure

Paul Oldfield

Failure isn't good. Nobody wants to fail. Here we look at techniques for postponing that fateful day--indefinitely. Typical examples follow.

Planning: Ostrich style

The aim here is to establish a series of milestones leading toward the goal of the project. What we want to do is establish early a habit of successfully meeting those milestones. A key technique is to ensure there's nothing in the early milestones that the team cannot readily achieve. Once we've established this habit for success, it is time for us to cash in on our reputation and move on to set up another project in a similar way.

Executing: The Rosy View

The management, in their wisdom, have decided to retain us on the project we set up. The easy milestones are a fond memory. Now we want to concentrate on thinking positively. Those young, smart chaps on the team may become a liability, crying "Risk" and promoting negative attitudes. What we want is a team of folk well-versed in time and materials. These people look at a risk, and think "Opportunity!" We need that sort of positive thinking. Capitalize on it by getting the management and stakeholders to commit meaningfully to the success of the project.

Commitment: Declaring a Success

Delivery deadline is well in the past; we now have something to release that meets at least some of the scope. All the stakeholders have committed their reputation to success. Anything we release now WILL be a success.

Looking forward: Know where the Skeletons lie

We have a successful delivery under our belt. Now is the time to remind the stakeholders of the implications--that we can deliver successfully, as indeed they can. Don't forget to add the success to your Curriculum Vitae.