As some of my Vistage member CEOs updated me in the past few weeks on large projects underway at their companies, I was struck by the thought that the situations they were experiencing are like a pregnancy. (Even if you have never been pregnant, I’m sure you are familiar with these concepts):
Planned vs. unplanned – Some projects are planned long in advance, while others are last minute due to unanticipated factors.
Morning sickness – Early in the project, upheaval and internal rumblings are often present in the organization as people try to get used to dealing with the project in addition to their normal workload. Sometimes these rumblings die down as the project progresses past the first few months. Other times, the rumblings last for most of the project.
Regular doctor visits – Large projects are often led by experts or consultants who have dealt with these types of projects before. It’s important to have regular visits from the consultant to ensure the project is on schedule. Sometimes the visits are quick and painless because the project is on track. Sometimes, the consultant will recommend a change that is unexpectedly challenging. (During my pregnancy, I knew I had to give up caffeine, but was caught off guard when the doctor told me I also had to give up chocolate. Since I was craving chocolate, that was a big challenge!)
Preparing the nursery – After the initial hurdles have been overcome, it’s time to focus externally. What impact will the project have on other departments within the organization? Will customers or vendors be impacted? How will you ready them for the upcoming changes? It’s important to be prepared for the project to launch successfully.
Feeling the baby kick and the last trimester – The first time the baby kicks, you often feel excited. When the project is closer to completion, excitement starts to build. Then the kicks become more frequent, everything aches, you can’t sleep, and you start to tire of the situation. Additionally, just as I did not realize that pregnancy really lasts 10 months (not 9!), projects often take longer than expected. You may begin to wonder if this will ever be over.
Labor and delivery – “Going live” with your project can often be more painful than expected. Others may warn you about the potential pain, yet it’s hard to comprehend until you experience it for yourself. Launching a project can be a very intense time for all involved.
After the baby is born – Once the project has been launched, it may need your close attention and nurturing for a while. Eventually, things settle into a routine.
That is, until the terrible twos!
Photo by: Qsimple, Memories For The Future Photography via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA