Special thanks to Deanna Burghart of ProjectConnections.com for her editorial contributions

The Project Grinch…

Every good PMP likes their process a lot.

But the Grinch (who lives just above process) did not.

He hated the process, he hated the forms, he hated the Gantt charts, the risk plans, the norms.

It’s tough to know why the Grinch wouldn’t conform.

It could be he hated to pin down a plan.  It could be he didn’t want blood on his hands.

But I think the most likely reason of all is if this project failed, he might take the fall.

Whatever the reason, the plans it may be, he saw all the projects and blamed PMP.

So he pored over the charter with a deep, Grinchy frown, hating the details the team had pinned down.

It was all SMART and all signed by the sponsor and blessed.  It had details that put any questions to rest.  And it referenced subplans like HR and risk.  The Grinch looked at the pages, all disgusted…”tsk tsk.”

“They might get this done!” he’d mutter, and dread it. “They might get this done and I won’t get the credit!”

Then he groused with executive sighing and moaning.  “I’ll call in some changes and get PMs groaning.”

“If they should succeed, that just won’t do at all.  They’ll want to hold parties and meetings and balls.

Oh they’ll do lessons learned and they’ll archive their stuff.  They’ll track their successes and claim it was tough.

And then they’ll all ask for it…their voices they’ll raise.

They’ll want all the credit and  PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE!”

The more that Grinch thought, “I can stop this…I KNOW.  I must stop success from arriving and so…”

Then he got an idea.  An awful idea.  The Grinch got a wonderful, awful idea.  “I know just what I’ll do,” and he called to his aide.  “I’ll join all their meetings, that’ll just make the grade”.

So he went to their meetings and bogged them all down with  suggestions for rework, in studies they’d drown.  He slithered in and added items ad hoc. He told lots of war stories—ran out the clock.  He talked of past failures and crises, disasters.  He told of the good days of yore with good masters.  He droned on and on while the team members sighed, and he knew in  a few weeks the team would have fried.

As the meeting was ending, the PM called out.  “You’ve got other things pending, but I’m seeing some doubt.  I know that you don’t want this project to fail, but my team members feel like they’re starting to flail.  I have just the thing for the changes you want, and I’ve filled out this change form  (in Times Roman font). I just need a signature so we’ll succeed.  It’s all that you’ve asked for, it’s all that we need.”

And the Grinch began realizing, to his chagrin, that the PMP meant it.  They wanted to win.  The team was sincere in its efforts to finish.  Despite his best efforts, they hadn’t diminished.  They were using the Gantt charts and subplans and charter.  And for all of his efforts, they worked even harder.  They were destined to follow the process without him.  And despite his intrusion, they weren’t out to doubt him.  They trusted him still! And the Grinch was just floored. They gave him the credit he wanted to hoard.

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t thought through…

“Maybe projects succeed with the process pursued.”

“Perhaps it’s not all just superfluous fluff, and there’s something of substance to PERT charts and stuff.  There might be a need for a stakeholder list; a change log, a risk log, they’re not all just grist

for the process-addicted or anal-retentive…they might just be helpful, or useful!  Inventive!

They could have a purpose,”  he started to see, and at last understood. All the forms A to Z had become so important, he just couldn’t miss them.  And at the next meeting, he just wouldn’t diss them.  He was the first one to stick to the agenda.  And his personal baggage he gladly surrendered.  He helped them get through it …he helped them to flourish.  Their need for the process he nurtured, he nourished.

And the team how they blessed him, as their voices they raised, and they heaped it upon him, the first dollops of praise.

It’s a challenge to give our old Grinches a shot.  But this season just try it…it might work…

… or not.