Know When It’s Time to Kill a Project



Here is another valuable Management Tip of the Day from Harvard Business Review. To sign up for a free subscription to any/all HBR newsletters, please click here.

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Zombie projects are the ones that fail to fulfill their promise and yet keep shuffling along, sucking up resources.

They happen because shutting a project down can be very emotional, and people often struggle to acknowledge when something just doesn’t work.

o To make people view the process more rationally, create clear and simple guidelines for when to continue — or kill — a project. Consider these questions: Is there a real market need? Can we fulfill that need better than competitors? Can we meet our financial objectives?

o If it’s still hard to make a final decision, bring in objective outsiders, such as someone from a different division or even outside the company, to weigh in.

o You can also help people accept a project’s conclusion by emphasizing what was learned along the way.

o Hold action-after reviews to capture lessons learned, and create a database to store and share them.

Adapted from “Zombie Projects: How to Find Them and Kill Them,” by Scott Anthony, David Duncan, and Pontus M.A. Siren.

To check out that resource and join the discussion, please click here.

Also, you may wish to check out an anthology, Management Tips from Harvard Business Review, by clicking here.



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