Ghost – bust your projects!

As Halloween season is upon us, here are some light-hearted tips from the classic film Ghostbusters to help you eliminate any project ghouls and ghosts you may find in the closet.  By the way, if you are old enough to remember watching the original film at the cinema (and not the terrible re-make) you must be what we like to call ‘a seasoned project manager’!

  1. Who you gonna call?

At this time of year, once word gets around that you are a professional Ghostbuster, be prepared for your phone to ring off the hook with calls from desperate folks asking you to come and solve their living nightmares.

  1. “Hello Ghostbusters. How can I help you?”

When you get the call, take a leaf out of Janine Melnitz’s book – the loveable Ghostbuster receptionist.  Take as many details as you can to give yourself the best chance of catching whatever is lurking behind those closed doors.

  1. Investigate suspicious readings

If you walk in to the office and there is ectoplasm dripping off the walls and your P.K.E meter reading is off the charts, you know something is wrong.  Don’t ignore it, do some investigating.  Progress reports that don’t ring true or estimates that seem unrealistic will come back to haunt you if you don’t double check the details at the time.

  1. Assume your positions

A key factor in achieving success is to get yourself in the right position before you attempt to trap any ghost.  Eliminate possible sources of the problem one by one until you are sure you have your eyes set on the cause of the mayhem.

  1. Have your proton pack at the ready

When you have isolated the nasty little ghoul make sure you have your proton pack at the ready to zap the creature when the time is right.  Having the right tools for the job in hand is key to your success.  This could be a dashboard which you have created to show a worrying emerging trend or a piece of analysis which will help the Project Board to make an evidenced based decision.

  1. Invention and creativity

Just like in the film, you can’t always land the little sucker on the first attempt, so this is when you need to get your creative head on.  Every good Ghostbuster needs to think laterally to problem solve, so use your team to come up with a range of ideas.  Sometimes the slightly more inane ones actually work.

  1. “We got one!”

Finally you’ve done it.  You’ve secured the headless horseback rider in your ghost trap and things can return to normal.  This is a cue to return back to base to re-group and celebrate, but make sure you store the pesky creature properly in the Ecto Containment Unit.  Capturing any lessons learned in a log, which is widely shared, will help you and others not to fall into the same trap in the future.

  1. Retain your sense of humour

The hilarious Dr Peter Venkman always managed to raise a laugh from his fellow crew, even when they were facing a giant marshmallow man on the run in New York City.  Similarly it is important to keep team morale up when your project is facing difficult challenges.  Bringing donuts to the office will never make things worse!

  1. I ain’t afraid of no ghosts  

Like any good Ghostbuster, you should actively seek out nasty problems on your project.  A good health check will help you to work out what needs fixing and then you can go to work.

So, who you gonna call? Nine Feet Tall of course…

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