Advice: Have a Project Champion

Project management advice: Every project needs a champion.

It took me a while to understand the nature of product development and the need for project champions.  At the beginning of my career, I believed projects just “got developed.”  I was working in a research department at Eastman Kodak Company, building cutting edge photocopiers.  Engineers buzzed around, building microprocessor-based circuits, image-enhancing emulsion, and writing software.  I did my part and just expected the product to come together.  Looking back, I now realize there was one man who made it all happen: a gray-bearded old dude who wanted to change the industry.

Products get developed, and projects finished, only when there is someone with the burning desire to see it happen – like the old bearded dude in the example above.  A paycheck is not enough.  You have to want it badly.  Only then will you fight through all the obstacles to make it happen.  Projects often take 2-3 times their original estimates, and some required several iterations to realize the full glory.  And only a true champion will endure the suffering to see it to completion.

Look around at your project.  Do you have a champion?  A person who refuses to give up?  If not, you have good reason to fear that the project could be canceled or back-burnered.  Have you personally ever been a project champion?  If not, give it a try.  Throw yourself into something that really engages your passions.  You’ll find there’s satisfaction in a job well done.