Watching My Project Fall Apart

The last few weeks at work have been interesting – I have been working on-and-off on a project that has ben having some definite difficulties. I originally wrote a lot of details about this project down but have deleted all of it – I’m trying to do my best to only give the heart of what is needed to understand. The problem with this project is that it started before anyone was ready for it to start. My job was to ask clients questions, and to send the answers over to another department who would act on that new information. I was handed a list of work to do and, as is my usual tendency, I put everything else on hold to work with single-minded focus on it. A couple days and a third of the project later, I was told to stop where I was – the core department for the project couldn’t take the amount of work I was asking them to do. This left me incredibly confused – they had sent me the work in the first place, why would they not want me to work on it? At this point, I asked them where this project had come from, whose idea it had been. The answer surprised me: nobody had any idea. This project seemed to manifest itself from nothingness – or more likely, was the product of some conversation in a meeting somewhere. That initial idea snowballed into a project that the systems of the company were simply unable to bear.

At the moment, a week later, the work remains paused. I still don’t know whose idea it was originally. Interdepartmental meetings have been held to see where and when we can move forward, and everything I can do has been paused. There is a lot to talk about here in terms of the leadership structure above me, and what I myself could have done better.

The main structure of a project is the people behind it, and this project suffered from almost all parties having far too little information on the others. On one hand, the department who began the project did not have any idea about what our process was like – while I can’t provide too much information as most of it is specifics, I will say that I had to spend a considerable amount of time at the start of the project weeding out the requests of our department which were just completely unfeasible. Then again, our department underestimated the workload we would be creating for the other by making this barrage of requests. It was a communication breakdown that should not have happened in a company this small, and makes you notice how the stress of the end-of-quarter rush can bleed off into other projects.

What I just talked about is something that I will take to heart but won’t necessarily mention to the others at my workplace. That level of criticism is a little above my paygrade, and I would be risking the good favor of the two departments I work with by complaining. What I can change most easily, though, is my own action. I jumped into the project too quickly and without thinking. I saw the obvious problems and hacked away at them rather than sitting back and considering the deeper complications – both in what our department couldn’t do as well as what the other department wouldn’t be able to handle. I made the mistake of thinking that my higher-ups were infallible and didn’t think critically. Moving forward, I will look more deeply into projects before I start them, and be able to bring more early ideas into how projects should be structured.

One thought on “Watching My Project Fall Apart

  • August 1, 2019 at 10:31 am

    Wow, that really sounds like a muddled situation. Odd that you can’t even identify the source of the project. Given your comment about end-of-quarter rush, do you feel it was something that people jumped on to meet some quota, produce some other outcome for a quarter or is it that in the flurry of end-of-quarter people didn’t really approach the project as logically as they typically do? Good for you to recognize how you might adjust moving forward, but I do hope you don’t think that your actions were the ones that really led to this screwy situation (I don’t think that you do based on your reflection). Might be interesting to think about this project – compared to others – in terms of where and why the communication, approach, etc. varied so from the way in which projects are typically approached.

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