I see a number of projects where in fact the concern is that someone someplace hasn’t used control or responsibility and for that reason things have gone off the rails. A lot of the time this is about the personality types involved and those personalities massively impact how any recovery may be accomplished. First up is the Prime Minister David Cameron, who has used ‘full responsibility’ for hiring Andy Coulson. What full responsibility means is that he has mentioned that he takes that responsibility here, but in actuality actually nothing has changed or is in danger of actually being done.

I often see this on projects where a mature business sponsor has a pet project that they actually don’t care and attention that much about but just want to view it continue for power reasons. This is very common in IT projects, often you will see a program director being promoted during a project and then taking ‘full responsibility’ by firing the person who had to completely clean up their mess after they were advertised.

Its a good career strategy as it means that you will be the sort of person who requires decisive action and has person integrity however in reality is classic blame farming. Rebecca Brooks (nee Wade) typifies another form of rogue sponsor when issues occur. In cases like this the sponsor is often positively involved with the task and viewed as more than simply a sponsor but actually an innovator of the effort. Trouble occurs and the sponsor throws up their hands and claims that they had no idea whatsoever what was taking place and are appalled at how these were kept in the dark.

Then we’ve the Met Police chief that has resigned for the faults within his company that pretty much no-one feels touch him individually. His extremely barbed comment pointing out that his mistake was to employ someone who hadn’t resigned in the initial scandal, as opposed to David Cameron, clearly highlights what he seems is a dual standard in how people talk about responsibility. In IT this often sadly occurs when the sponsor seems they can leap into another job someplace else if each goes before they may be pushed.

  • Get married
  • Support various levels of your choice making process
  • YOU’RE OPEN 24/7
  • What credits are allowed
  • Expand from key customers to broader sales foundation
  • Efforts to increase inspiration must first concentrate on the employee’s needs (Maslow, Herzberg)
  • Trust is Needed from Both Sides

The problem to the project team remains who will clean up the mess and drive it forwards. This is actually common in IT recovery programs, lots of individuals sitting on the sidelines with ‘helpful’ advice on how to improve, or how to ‘learn’ from the errors but zero actual time dedication to clean things up. Managing these folks is central to recovering an IT program. Paul McMullen has been the comedy turn of this scandal, a guy so divorced from reality that he continues not simply to excuse but positively to champion the sorts of behavior that many people are condemning around him.

Here is a guy who both Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan have arrived to be always a total and utter muppet of the highest order. At some phases I’ve really pondered if he isn’t really a journalist however in fact a very hammy actor who is over playing the part.

In IT they are the folks who just don’t get that there surely is an issue. He had been responsibly for lots of their key architectural decisions, several of which were behind the inability of people to use the site generally. What we haven’t really seen up to now is someone to take responsibility with action in this crisis. Critically it’s not about blame in the sense of finding people to blame, it’s about finding problems so when these problems grow to be people then those people are given the simple choice: change or leave.

It is approximately finding people who should have used personal responsibility and ensuring that next time they are doing. Recovering projects is normally one of the most thankless jobs that I do. You enter a scenario where another person has screwed up as well as your end result gets the project to a place where it should have been ages ago. There is however something individually rewarding in changing the culture of people in order that they are able to recognize the errors that were made and in exiting the toxic people from the process.

Crucially however there is one lesson that I’ve learnt doing this and that would be that the first stage needs to be recognise that there are systemic issues that have to be fixed. If as it happens that actually it is a localized concern then this is great, however the assumption must be that the rot is much broader and more general than the presently surfaced failure. Normally there’s a culture of poor sponsorship, management, management, and clarity leading to a general case of fail in which only the range of the project fail stands out.

If you do see a task failing the very first thing you should identify is not what went wrong in the weeds but how the sponsors and market leaders will respond. Will they behave just like a Brooks and deny everything? Such as a Cameron, and take ‘full responsibility’ but actually blame farm? Will they refuse that there happens to be a concern like McMullen? Will they fall on the sword and leave a vacuum or are you experiencing someone with whom you can actually work to drive through the recovery?