5 Words That Strike Fear

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.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

“Have you got a minute?” A simple question, just five words. But those five words have signaled more sleepless nights than I care to remember. I would still have a full head of hair if not for that question, and I wouldn’t hide behind the couch when there are sudden loud noises.

Okay, so maybe that last one is an indication of some more deeply rooted issues, but this isn’t about me. It’s a question every project manager has been asked; indeed, it’s a question every PM should expect to be asked—but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.

It’s not the question itself, it’s what it represents. The person asking isn’t really wondering how much time you have, they’re coming to you with a problem, an issue—something unexpected that is going to disrupt the project and cause people additional stress.

Every project has those moments. The difference between success and failure is how you as the project manager respond to them. Handle them well and not only will the problem be solved, the team will be more engaged and motivated. Handle them badly and you’ll be struggling the rest of the way.

Think!
When you first find out about an issue, it’s only natural to think of the possible consequences. Human nature is such that we automatically think of the worst-case scenario. When you are…

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"Comedy is tragedy - plus time."

- Carol Burnett

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