It’s Monday afternoon at the office. The week has only begun, but you’re already swimming in a sea of memos, spreadsheets, and schedules. Just as you’re daydreaming about what leftovers you might reheat for a late dinner, your boss pokes his head into your office. He or she mutters something about quotas and deadlines before he or she drops the bomb about a “little project” he or she needs you to complete by the end of the week. And just like that, you know you’ve been handed a nightmare but for whatever reason accept the challenge.

“According to the Cranfield School of Management in the Uk, 68% of Projects Are Destined for Failure Before They Even Start.”

The lack of project management training or experience of many Christian leaders can be an enormous stress factor for them. Whilst natural organizational ability is enormously helpful, in itself it is no guarantee of any project being both successful and low stress.

What is a  nightmare project? It’s something we’re all familiar with. The boss assigns us some vague task and a deadline but leaves the means to a solution up to our creative intellect.

So how do you solve  the problem of this dreaded “project”?

1.             Understand the scope of the project  

First things first, create a list to layout your ideas on how to go about the job at hand. Write out questions you might have that need to be answered, people you might need to work with or talk to in order to understand what work must be done.

Without fully understanding what work must be done, it is impossible to accurately estimate a project’s schedule or budget.

After creating a list, share your ideas with colleagues. Work with peers who have the same goal and share the same work ethics as you. Too often, when faced with an unrealistic project, we tend to work with just about anybody who wearily agrees to have their name on board. The enthusiasm of a new project quickly fades when actual work is needed. Instead of “How can I help?” were met with “I’m busy right now” and “Can it wait until next week?”  The sponsor, project manager, and project team must share a common understanding of the scope of the project.

2.             Get estimates from the people who will be doing the work

To avoid the stress of friendly fatigue, create a solid plan of action with your co-workers. Assign duties and responsibilities and set a deadline for each task.

4.             Re-estimate as soon as you realize an estimating assumption was wrong

Don’t get discouraged if people and other things fall through. Even though it’s frustrating with the broken promises, missed deadlines, mistakes, and poor quality outputs. As soon as you realize a mistake was made, assess the impact and re-estimate the project.

“Unfortunately When Project Managers Spend the Majority of Their Time Trying to Achieve the Unachievable, the Result Is Frustration and Potential Burnout.”

But say you’ve followed those steps and were able to remain positive throughout this grueling week. You completed the assignment, whether enthusiastically or completely drained of all energy, only to be told the higher-ups decided to go a different route and don’t need the results of your project after all. “Good effort, though,” your boss tells you as he or she hands back your laminated report.

If you find yourself in this situation, just remember to never say “yes” to a “little project without first taking a look at what you’ve been handed.



  1. ikgica

    Thanks for the write-up, and I quite agree to some of the valued points stated above!.

    Perhaps, when a boss revealed verbally or stated in writing the need for a “little project”, it is in the best interest of the project and the project manager to prepare and issue a project charter.

    A project charter is a document that captures all high-level scope, risks, schedule, and rough order of estimates for cost, and other resources required.

    The good news is that, if the project charter is finally approved by the sponsor of the project, it automatically authorizes the project manager to use resources within that project, and the charter contains the initial agreed upon objectives (scope) which the project manager need to measure project progress against executed, and the identified variance can be corrected, if the variance is beyond correction, then it can be decided if to terminate the project or phase gate.

    Another fundamental pitfall project managers fall for is using rough order of estimate during execution phase of a project. Although rough order of estimating can be very useful at the inception phase of a project which helps to know viability of a project.

    However, after the planning phase of any project, the estimate from the schedule must re-calculated, and should be accurate by + – 5%, and again, the estimate must be considered from approved schedule base- line in order to capture all the required activities within the work breakdown structure.

    Thanks All!