Paperweights and Change

I’m sitting at home, watching these big fat flakes of snow fall, waiting for a call. We’re currently a 1 car household, the other car having just transformed into the world’s largest paperweight in the parking lot of Wegmans. We’ll head back to meet the tow truck driver when he calls to say he’s on the way.

This morning, the forecast said to expect 5-8” of snow. Now it says only 3-5” of snow.

This morning, we had 2 functional cars.

Life is change. It’s an adventure that we can influence, but rarely ever truly control.

As I opened my laptop just now, my browser was open to a conversation in a Project Manager group on LinkedIn about dealing with unauthorized change. The responses are generally insisting that unauthorized changes don’t happen in a properly managed project. That clients present a Scope Change Request, or they go through the Change Control Board, whatever that is. Or to stop all work until the change is authorized, and to punish the offenders swiftly.

The stark contrast between the rampant idealism in this conversation and the reality of projects is stunning.

What a disservice to our peers, to our teams, to our management – to pretend that our influence in the realm of controlling all aspects of a project is complete. We’re not managers. We’re shepherds. We guide, we influence, we provide direction. We attempt to clear the path, to avoid obstacles. But we’re not really in control.

Change is coming.

So is the tow truck. We hope.

One Comment

  1. Kelley,
    I came across your post today on projects and change, and found your insights very refreshing. It never ceases to amaze when I read or hear people talking about what a “properly” (perfectly) managed project should look like. I have been a PM for over 15 years and I have yet to meet a stakeholder who fully, or even half way complies with any type of formal change control process. Does it formally exist in the organization? Sure. Is it followed? Well, let’s just say I think you captured it perfectly when you said,

    “The stark contrast between the rampant idealism in this conversation and the reality of projects is stunning.”

    Well said.
    You are so right when you say PM’s are not in control. C-level management is in control. The PM’s I know who are successful are the ones who are flexible and can adapt when change happens, and processes and policy are not followed, or even broken. Those that cannot do so– are in the wrong vocation.

    Thank you for a thoughtful and encouraging post.


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