Overcoming obstacles on projects at work


Had one of those days today where a four hour website workshop left me thinking…a lot.

The workshop was designed to give all parties to a project to create two new websites an opportunity to contribute to a debate about the purposes of the sites (they’re closely related) and to reach a consensus on key aspects of the projects that have so far eluded us.

We always knew it would be a challenging session and would be unpredictable.

What actually happened was perfectly reasonable at the time – the discussions proceeded in a series of small steps, each in a direction completely different to the one I’d expected – which meant by the end of the workshop the whole conversation and debate about the key issues was in a completely different place to the place where I’d expected (hoped?) things would end.

Initially I’d felt disappointed – we’d gone in with a purpose and not achieved it.

But reflecting now I’m happier – reaching consensus on complex issues isn’t a linear process that can be mapped out – debate and discussions can take things in a different direction that sometimes seems at odds to the direction that I think things should take.

Today we ended up agreeing a number of points that we hadn’t previously agreed. That’s a positive.

I’m still keen to progress the project, so from here we need to isolate the underlying assumptions that we’re making (ie assume x, means that we introduce a risk of y into the project), get everyone happy with them, and then get on with the project.

We aired many of these assumptions today – now that’s happened, they can be identified, documented and then left alone, leaving us to get on with the project.

My lesson for today is that even the most complicated obstacles on projects can be overcome with dialogue, shared end goals and a desire to move forward. It’s just the journey that can sometimes seem a bit painful and unpredictable…