Knowing When to STOP a Project – The #1 Leadership Skill

Knowing When to STOP a Project

Knowing When to STOP a Project
Based upon feedback from thousands of project post mortem participants, the number one project management skill most requested by project teams is knowing when to STOP a project!  When  project parameters shift, effective project leaders and project teams STOP the project!

The Balance of Speed and Reflection
Managing a complex and highly visible project can feel like walking a tightrope without being able to slow down.  Internal and external pressures to faster, better and cheaper results can push the best project teams to make unnecessary mistakes.

Use the Iron Triangle
You need to keep on track while trying to juggle the three parameters of the project management iron triangle

  • Cost
  • Quality/Scope
  • Time

Various stakeholders often have competing needs. When you conduct your project post mortem, be sure you don’t have to list “we never strategically adjusted” as your big mistake. This could spell a big “zero” for your project and threaten your very job.

Knowing When to STOP a Project
Here is how to adjust when ANY project budget, scope, resources or timing parameters shift: STOP!  It is actually that simple.  The difficult part is knowing when to STOP a project ini a way that makes sense for your culture and strategy.

The Best Project Teams Ruthlessly Manage Expectations
The best project teams:

  • Recognize key inflection points and invest the time and resources necessary to identify the implications with all key stakeholders before marching forward.
  • Adjust project definitions, plans and execution strategies before doing more work or throwing more resources at the problem.
  • Reflect and continuously improve as they go.

The Bottom Line
Stopping a project often means figuring out an acceptable trade-offs or making major concessions with powerful stakeholders. That is OK. The key is getting and keeping everyone on the same page with the new plan instead of just working harder or faster without properly regrouping with the team or project sponsors.

Remember, hope and avoidance are not strong project leadership strategies.

If you liked learning about knowing when to STOP a project, download 5 Steps to Align Project Teams to Pull in the Same Direction

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