Ideas, Stories and Beer Talks

Taking Ownership of a Stalled Project

Taking Ownership of a Stalled Project

Not so long ago, I was asked to lead a software development that started in 2012. Hmm… along a bumpy road and many project managers… here I am, the next inline to take this project to production. That “not so long ago” moment was December 2013.

 Here we go again… I am about to dabble into another ongoing project started in 2011, under different circumstances. It is alarming how I keep taking on projects in disarray. 

 Looking back in years, my career after I left PC manufacturing has been associated with many failed or stalled projects. Projects ranging from animation production services to website development have been the highlights for the past 10 years of my life. I must say that I am not a typical project manager, specializing in turning around stalled projects. 

 Owning the Project

Whenever I come across a project in disarray, I often find that no one seems to be taking full ownership of the project, be it an animated movie production or a software application development. Many stakeholders are just sharpening their “swords” to “slash” the EVIL ones, outsource vendors or senior management staffs. In almost every case, I don’t find the project OWNER. The very ONE fellow who holds the entire project together.


The primary task of a project lead is to take ownership of the project, be it in disarray or in an “incubator”. In most cases, a stalled project lost its owner due to a few reasons.

1. Disagreement

2. Insufficient resource

3. Poor planning

I can name a lot more reasons. Ultimately, I need to find the ONE most important ingredient to make the project a success, TAKING OWNERSHIP of the project. If you have a dog, you make sure your dog has enough to eat and fresh water to drink. Taking ownership of a project is to take responsibility of the project outcome regardless of the project status. If you take responsibility of the project outcome, you will find resource to continue. In this case, taking over a stalled project is almost like adopting a “neglected” dog. Initially, your dog will give you problems. Both you and your dog will have to adjust to continue the next phase of life.

Taking ownership of a stalled project may mean changing the methodology to deliver the project, very much like adjusting to your new adopted dog. Hm..  at the same time, you should also be aware that your new dog may come with fleas and ticks. So, you should be prepared with pest control before you invite your new dog home.

 It looks like 2014 is going to be one hell of a roller coaster ride.