Preparing for a project storm

Storm clouds and lightning over highwayIf you were in the UK last weekend, how did you prepare for Hurricane Bertha – the much forecasted weather system that spiralled across the atlantic? Did you laugh in the face of the weather warnings issued by the Met Office?

I’m sorry, but what a load of bollocks.
 
Last week the news was full of images of Bertha’s pixelated figure moving across the map. “Nowhere in the country will emerge unscathed” said one news reporter. We knew when to expect her and we knew which way she was going to travel – her whole route was mapped out for us.
 
I think it’s fair to say that we were given plenty of warning about Bertha – six flood warnings, two amber warnings and headline slots on all the main news channels for 48 hours.
 
And then it rained a bit.  
 
The music-lovers who headed to the south coast this weekend for a festival and the guy pictured battling his way across Millennium Bridge in a just t-shirt all got soaked – but they survived. Good for them. If you were out driving, traffic was slow and it took a bit longer than usual but you survived. Hoorah!

The media love to scare us.

Government agencies implore us to ‘only travel if your journey is absolutely necessary’. Tosh.

Sometimes in your project you get an amber warning (or several!). It might be a comment made by a stakeholder, the results of a workshop might prove to be interesting in ways that you hadn’t expected or your project manager spider-senses might start to tingle. A storm is coming.

I got a warning about a project as I was taking it over. A conversion weekend failed because the team ran out of time to cleanse the data on the legacy system. That was 25th September. 5 days later a full quarter end was run for the first time and all hell broke loose. Reconciliations failed, accruals were wrong, P&L didn’t stack up etc. etc. It took six months to clean up that particular storm.

Of course, you can ignore the warning signs. There’s a chance that everything could work out. There’s also the chance, however, that you could end up like the bogged down festival goers on the south coast, or the shoppers in Cambridge who had to be wheeled to their cars in shopping trolleys to avoid the flash floods.
 
The good news is they did cope – and they’ve got a great story to tell.
Whatever the weather throws at us – we do cope. Even Noah managed eventually. And real project managers cope and handle whatever vagaries and challenges are thrown at us by the business/IT/regulatory gods. It might not be what we want – but we will handle it. And when the sh** hits the fan for you in the coming months (as it surely will, ‘cos none of us are immune) know for sure that you will cope, that you will handle it and you’ll emerge, at worst, with a story to tell.

Perhaps you’ve already had to cope with your own hurricane Bertha. Why not share your experience – just hit reply or leave a comment.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.

Oh, and you might need a brolly next Thursday. Apparently tropical drizzle will be particularly damp and the winds a bit blustery in the UK. Leaves could fall from trees.

Stay safe out there…

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