Why Pessimists May Be Your Project’s Best Ally
If you wonder why your project has stalled, consider the corrosive power of yes that may lurk within your team. Retail projects with pessimists may be the best indicator that a project will come in on time, on budget and within scope.
We’ve written before about the power of white space. It is a necessary component for realistic timelines and Gantt charts. But so is balancing the team with a hearty contingent of people who see the glass half empty. Optimists build plans for “the happy path.” That leads to unrealistic project plans. Ones that presume that every milestone will be met and project sequencing will be smooth. When plans have to pivot, perhaps too many people on the project said yes to adding scope whenever the business made a request.
You can see the power of yes, when challengers are shut down and told to tow the company line. Challengers risks far more when they question budgets and resources than the optimist who agrees with every plan. Value challengers because they are the ones who are most apt to tell the emperor that he wears no clothes. Instead, challengers get the difficult label. Then their bosses take them aside to talk about how they need to “figure it out.”
Ask yourself: Do you tell team members to “figure it out” when your projects are challenged?
When there are obstacles, everyone would prefer to have a team that finds creative solutions. My old boss would say, “never tell me a problem without offering a solution.” And that is a fair request. But that is very different when you need a project to succeed. In that case, smart leaders say “tell me about a problem and I will listen.” Because as soon as you surround yourself with
the corrosive power of yes:
- Yes, the project will be on time even though we changed vendors.
- Of course, we can add that additional capability for the same cost.
- Yes, we can deliver with less resources than we planned.
- No problem: we can rewrite the training now that the scope has changed.
- Sure, we can scale without a pilot.
- Yes, we can make changes without testing
It is a warning your project will fail.