At some stage your project will hit the skids, as we used to say in Liverpool. I’d love to be able to tell you this won’t happen to you and everything will go swimmingly well, but that’s not the nature of projects, I’m afraid. By their nature, they are evolving entities that often generate uncertainty. Your job is to see that this uncertainty is well managed and to course-correct when you spot things are going wrong.

Here I’ll give you a few insights from my experience into how to spot when your project is going wrong, in case it’s not obvious to you.

1. No one understands why you’re doing the project

For the project to really matter and for the people who are working on it to really care, it’s got to align with what your company said they would address at the start of the year — in other words, your strategy. The second you deviate from that, you lose people and the kitchen conversations start: ‘I have no idea why we’re doing this’ or ‘This doesn’t line up with what we said we’d do’ or ‘We’re only doing this because the HR Manager went to [insert name of competitor] and saw what they’d done’, and so on. The project has to fit your strategy, not the other way around, and as the sponsor you have to ensure the value is clear at the start and it has ongoing viability.

The moment it deviates from what was originally planned, doubt and suspicion arise and you have to reassure everyone that it will still deliver the expected outcomes. Constantly ...

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