Separate risk and negativity in your project

When working in IT projects — especially in fixed bid projects — I see a lot of people facing difficulties dealing with stress related to a risk they come across.

The immediate reaction is to complain about the problem and tell everyone how the project is doomed; sometimes this happens even before the project has started.

1. Be realistic

You’re not a super human and resources such as time is finite. Not all problems can be fixed by throwing more people at it either. This leaves two options, reduce the scope or extend project timelines. Are there any other levers that can be pulled? Do they solve the problem? No? Then accept the consequences and update the plan accordingly. Worrying about the change will not get you anywhere.

2. Quit negative cycle

Negativity has a feedback cycle that is nearly impossible to get out of. That said, it is very easy to avoid one from a project perspective unlike a psychological negative loop, which we experience when going through depression or an emotional trauma. The solution is to remember #1. There is only so much that can be done and needless fretting and exasperation will gain you nothing. On the other hand the negativity also tends to bring down the morale of the whole team.

3. Leverage

If a project is not doing well, it is not an individual problem, it is the problem of team across the board. Leverage this understanding when dealing with risks. Try to contextualise the impact of this risk in terms of how it affects business goals and not just your project goals.

This is the thinking I’ve used in my own line of work and it has helped to a large degree. I hope it helps you as well.

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