How To Rescue A Troubled Project

Podcast 112 – How To Rescue A Troubled Project

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Podcast 112 - How To Rescue A Troubled Project

Let’s talk about how to rescue a troubled project

In this podcast, Elise Stevens speaks to Michel Dion about how to rescue a troubled project.

How do you know if a troubled project can be rescued or if it really should be shut down?

Michel Dion has expertise in project and portfolio management. He is currently the Director of Planning, Audit and Evaluation for the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages in Quebec, Canada.

Working extensively in corporate planning and reporting, performance management, internal auditing and project evaluation, Michel knows how to identify a troubled project.

Points raised in this podcast:

  • Projects often fail but there is a process you can undertake to rescue a troubled project before it gets that far.
  • When they sense a project failing, project managers should assess the damage like a doctor at a crash site. Where has the most severe damage occurred and what immediate intervention is required?
  • Consider the brutal neutrality approach. Try to remove the politics and avoid assigning blame but zero in on the problems and be brutal in fixing them. Consider bringing in someone external to assess the project.
  • If previous project reports were positive and the project appeared to be on track that usually indicates the reporting was not honest.
  • Go back to the project outcomes. What was the project trying to achieve? This can help project managers find the direction they need to rescue a troubled project.
  • Sometimes projects that should be shut down are continued simply because of ego or fear. Have the courage to shut down a project that can’t be rescued.
  • Sometimes projects become overinflated and delayed by too much governance.
  • Consider this four-step process:
    • Step 1 Diagnostic: What went wrong? What went right?
    • Step 2 Establish New Plan: What are we going to do now?
    • Step 3 Execution: Let’s get back to work!
    • Step 4 Intense Monitoring: Making sure we’re on track.
  • Don’t skip the testing and training stages. They’re essential for finding problems with a project.
  • Project managers have a responsibility to establish trust and faith in the project. A leader who is calm and positive is most likely to be able to rescue a troubled project.

Still lost? Listen to Elise Stevens and Millie Swann discuss six steps for getting a project back on track. You can also connect with Michel Dion on LinkedIn, or see his website.

Listen to this Podcast #112:



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  1. […] Elise Stevens interviews Michel Dion on rescuing troubled projects with a brutal assessment and a new plan, followed by execution and intense monitoring. Just 24 minutes, safe for work. […]

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