“Put another way, if you deliver the goods consistently but too quietly, you may find yourself and your organization taken for granted. This isn’t the voice of resentment; it’s the voice of experience. And when you’re taken for granted, the conditions needed for your success start to change.”
“Here’s a bit of advice. Communicate near misses. Make sure all of the top executives know what could have happened if that major IT project had gone sideways.”
“Don’t expect pats on the back — that’s not the point. The point is that the better you and your organization get, the more you may fade into the background. Ensure that there’s a clear understanding company-wide of your strategic relevance. It’s your job to make sure you and your people are appreciated.” SecretCIO, Don’t Get Taken For Granted, InformationWeek, May 14, 2012.
For too many people the notion of how to manage success is something they find humorous. First off, things will never change that much. It will be essentially the same around here. Secondly, if we are successful, it will sell itself and be self evident.
When the situation changes and we are “suddenly” successful (after a lot of hard work and risk taking) it almost always surprises us. We don’t know how to handle it.
I can handle success!
It is kind of like folks saying that if they won the lottery and now had millions of dollars it would not change them or they would have no difficulty dealing with it. History has shown that such “success” is very difficult and few people manage it well.
The same is true for project success. Once we get to the point where we can deliver on time with good quality … what happens? We get taken for granted. It is often amazing how quickly an organization can transition from loud and noisy projects that are always marginal, to successful projects and then back again to loud and noisy but barely successful projects. It is as if it was better when we were not successful!
The only difference I would suggest from the above quote is to communicate the risks on a regular basis. Not just the near misses. Of course everyone else does this , talks about how hard their job is. Well, it is no different than what we are doing. We just need to continue to talk about it even when we have it all under control.
Becoming successful can be an amazingly strange situation and not be at all like we expect. The key lesson in my career is that when we got successful we had to beat the drum just as often and just as loud as when things were going poorly and we were yelling for help. Personally I hate it. But experience has shown me that success can be readily undermined by simply getting too competent and too quiet.
How do you ensure that others recognize the challenges to success that your projects overcame?