The Political Explosion

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

I have a cautionary tale for you this time, a situation that really happened and that I had the misfortune to observe as a frustrated outsider. I often look back on it and wish that I had pushed harder to be allowed to step in, but realistically I don’t think that it would have helped. This was an extreme situation in many ways--and probably was always destined to end in a dramatic display of metaphorical pyrotechnics.

We’ll spend some time before the end of the article looking at what lessons can be learned, but for now--on with the show!

Setting the scene
I was a department head within an organization that had a lot of different projects underway. There was no central PMO and each project was run by the main department with resources assigned from other groups as needed. In the specific project that we are talking about there were only two groups involved--IT (which was running the project) and marketing (which was providing a number of resources).

In truth, that was the first mistake. A lot of the work was IT based and they certainly had the most resources committed to the initiative, but they weren’t really invested in the outcome of the work. Marketing was heavily invested in the success of the project; for them it was a critical initiative that would make or break their year.

The two teams had frequently bumped heads in the past--the…

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"It is an important and popular fact that things are not always what they seem. For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much -- the wheel, New York, wars and so on -- whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man -- for precisely the same reasons."

- Douglas Adams