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The Insanity of It All!
By Barry Otterholt

You’re a project manager, right? You rationalize what you do as normal, right? No offense to the mentally challenged (I hold that we are all mentally challenged, in some way), but consider the definition of crazy and then go look at yourself in the mirror:

  • Full of cracks or flaws – When is the last time you had a project that wasn’t full of cracks or flaws? Isn’t that were it starts? Aren’t cracks in the plan the root cause of most project failures? Or are your projects the exception? Come on now. Nobody’s looking over your shoulder here.
  • Mad, insane – How many times have you preached something over and over again, even become upset about it, just to get the same results? Einstein is quoted as saying the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I’m sure he wasn’t referring to you.

  • Infatuated – Oh, the possibilities!! Each project is so alluring at the start, when you don’t see all the monsters hiding behind the bushes. And as reality emerges, you remain steadfast in the belief that this project – your project – will turn heads. It will be your signature achievement. To keep you honest, answer this question truthfully: Which to you spend more time with, your project or your spouse and/or life-partner? Nah, you’re not infatuated with your project.

  • Erratic – We prefer to call them course corrections, right? Do you make course corrections all the time? I’m sure you don’t really have to, even if you do.

  • Obsessed, passionately preoccupied – So, which are you… ambivalent and unsuccessful? or obsessed and passionately preoccupied and successful? I know, this one hurts!

  • Unusual, being out of the ordinary – Isn’t this the very definition of a project?

Crazy? How ’bout them Seahawks! …what were we talking about?

Barry Otterholt has been a project management specialist and coach for the past 30 years. He is a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) and a Project Management Professional (PMP). He works with both public and private sector companies in the USA, Europe and Scandinavia. Mr. Otterholt was a Director with Microsoft, a senior consultant with Deloitte Consulting, and a COO with a nationwide consumer electronics enterprise. In 1988 he founded Public Knowledge, LLC to provide independent management and operational support to the public sector. More recently, he founded Stouffer & Company, LLC to provide as-needed project management services to fill an obvious skills gap in both private and public sectors.

Mr. Otterholt is an adjunct professor teaching project management at Northwest University. His essays on project management have been published in PMI newsletters. His runs a blog, Project Management Essays, where he muses about various project management topics. He lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

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