10 Assumptions that will kill your projectIt is not what you don't know that hurts you - it is what you know for sure that isn't so that hurts your projects. When you assume that things are going well and don't verify the true status or review the plan yourself, then you are exposing yourself to avoidable risk.
If you repeatedly assume the things below as the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, then your project will die (or at least become seriously ill). Watch out for these assumptions on your projects.
1. Assume that everyone on your project wants it to succeed. You may be willing to work weekends and late nights to the detriment of your family life, but it is folly to assume that every team member wants to do this. Perhaps they just want the paycheck and don't care what happens to your project or your career. Therefore, don't assume that anyone cares as much as you do about your project succeeding.
2. Assume that you understand what your project team members, senior leaders and matrix partners understand about your project. They have different communication styles, upbringings and life experiences. Therefore, verify that your understanding of a task is the common understanding. Use charts, project plans and charters, face to face meeting to confirm your understanding of expectations an status.
3. Assume that self-managing teams, will self-manage. I am surprised at how some engineers will not speak to another soul unless a project manager schedules a meeting, with an agenda, and brings them together to talk through a problem. Therefore, don't assume teams will self-manage, unless you see evidence of it. This is not a scar that you want to bear, when you find out that the self-managing team, didn't.
4. Assume that a well-planned and well-managed project does not have have problems. In fact, even the best planned project may have problems and questions every hour. Problems are not an indication of a poorly managed project, so don't assume that just because your projects have problems that you are not doing an outstanding job of managing your project.
5. Assume that you can coach lazy and incompetent team members into star performers. It won't happen. Your best approach is to do what you can to help them become competent and don't hesitate to replace them when you have the opportunity.
6. Assume that there is a "right" way to manage projects. Every project is unique. Project management theory and discipline will help you to lead projects professionally, but there is no "right" way to manage projects. There are alternatives and through experience you learn the alternatives that work best for you in your company. It is called experience and is valuable to hiring project managers. The project manager who thinks that there is only one "right" way to manage a project is actually not very valuable at all, because he can only manage projects that fit into his world, and they don't exist.
7. Assume that project management is all about processes, procedures, status reports and domains of knowledge. Project management is about leadership, social skills and a non-linear array of other skills all combined to get you from "I have a dream" to "Here is the final product." Processes and procedures can support your project, but if they are the focus of your time as a project manager, then you have missed the purpose of the exercise.
8. Assuming that learning project management theory in a classroom or University or project management bootcamp will automatically lead to successful projects. This profession is learned from theory and on-the-job battles with the scars. Don't be afraid to lead your projects, and get the experience that will make you valuable to future project sponsors.
9. Assume that project management gurus and big names in the industry know more about delivering project results than you do. They may be better at making speeches, but you may have more expertise and a history of successful project results that they can't hold a candle up to. I have found that "those who talk the most, usually have the least to say."
10. Assume that problems go away if you leave them alone. It doesn't happen. Ever. When you have a problem on your project, then address it.
There you have it. Ten assumptions that can kill your project if you believe they are true. Now that you have this knowledge, you can dig deeper when you are tempted to make any of these assumptions, and get to the truth of the matter.