How to get your best projects at work cancelled

Pretty much the worst thing that can happen to any geek is for a project they are working on to be cancelled. If its something they have already put a lot of work into and believe in, then it isn’t surprising that it hurts them. I think most of us have been there at one time or another … its canned, and you have an anger inside that is too big for what just happened.

This has happened to me on a number of ocassions, and each time I feel that I brought it on myself. I’m a great believer that if something is to be done, it should be done properly. Which means that when I get given a glimmer of hope that something can be improved or replaced, I push too hard to get too much changed. This makes my superiors (or their superiors, depending) uneasy and they pull the plug.

As I get older and gain wisdom (hopefully!) throughout my working life, I hope that one of two things will happen. Option one is that I’ll care a bit less, remember that this is my job and not my life, and keep it in perspective. The other is that I’ll get better at making my managers feel like they are in control at all times and that this is all their great idea. Ronald Regan is supposed to have said

it’s amazing what you can get done if you don’t care who takes the credit

And I think that’s true. Perhaps I need to fly further under the radar when I’m working on something interesting?

5 thoughts on “How to get your best projects at work cancelled

  1. I can see what you mean that if you cause too much concern then mission could be aborted.

    As far as caring less goes, stick to what's within your remit. I would voice any concerns, and suggest solutions if possible.

    I tend to ask if something is considered to be a significant problem, and so let my manager assess the risk.

    If your advice isn't followed up or taken seriously enough, then at least it's not your fault.

  2. Knowing how much you got involved in a replacement for a well known support system at our company - I would advise that flying under the radar is a good idea. All the plaudits will be yours, when the project comes to fruition - rather than have some manager claim all the glory. Though obviously you have to get management-buy in at some point.

  3. Geoff - I do feel that if everyone stayed inside their remit then there's a risk that nothing would get done! Sometimes its the bigger picture that matters, using better tools or improving the process. Of course change is always a bit risky though!

    Simon - do let me know if that support system ever gets replaced. I know they're still talking about it. Under the radar is probaly a better plan for things I know are important, and will contribute to team performance. Management sometimes come under so much pressure that they can't invest a little time to save a lot so forcing their hand can work well .... I won't be making a habit of it though, management are there for a reason and need to co-ordinate resources as best they can, I really don't subvert that on a regular basis.

  4. As far as remit goes, there's nothing wrong with "thinking outside the box." What I mean is there are some things other people are (or ought to be) paid to worry about.

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