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Detox Your Project

Recovery Methods To Get Your Project Back On Track


Make Community an Essential Part of Your Effort

Building a community is essential for the success of any software project. Introducing collaboration to the workflow of a company will probably revolve more around code than on culture at first. While coding is at the core, the culture change to collaboration and community building is something that needs to grow on an organization and needs to be nurtured without having a specific focus on software development.

Think about specifically assigning a community manager keeping the big picture on the social collaboration aspects of your endeavour. A central person that motivates people and communicates about progress is a big plus in any collaborative effort.

Treating Adversity as an Opportunity

Down the line things will go haywire. This is a universal truth, but also an illusion. All things trend toward disorder, but adversity is a learning experience and an opportunity in disguise.

When things go wrong in your project your expertise, your personal integrity might be on the line. Actually it is not so much the humans we need to be tough on. It is the task that needs our undivided attention. We set out with goals we truly believe in. Now it is time to take a step back and analyse what caused the negative experience. Think about the factors that brought you to this situation. What could you control, what couldn’t you control. Be careful not to over-analyse every small thing. Keep the big picture in mind.

As a next step trust in the fact that you learned something that energizes you and encourages you to get the project back on track. You have learned something that made you more resilient enabling you to lead the project in a more energized way.

Stay Positive: Learn From Your Mistakes

There is nothing worse than going through a difficult time in your life or in your project. You can start to feel burnt up, useless and nothing seems to amount to much. But you also want to make sense of what went wrong and us that for the positive, making sure the suffering was not in vain.

I used to try and avoid adversity as much as possible. The thing is: Adversity is around the corner and will show its face. Many years of working in a toxic environment left me broken and defeated. I was often in survival mode.

Having gone through that journey I learned that all change comes from within. Instead of seeing it as a rough tough time I learned to see it as a period where I have learned to become the real me.

Design for Success

A successful implementation does not so much depend on what needs to be achieved, but equally on who is involved in the project. Focusing on the material aspects only is designing for failure. Take the human aspect into the equation.

The challenge in designing for success lies in bringing users and technology together in a human-centric way. The tendency is to jump right into solution thinking overlooking who members of the team are and what problem we are actually trying to solve.

Take small steps

With the end goal in mind we are inclined to accelerate rather than carefully look at our current achievements. It is this acceleration that leads to failure. Remember collaboration and open source is a journey!

Focus on what you can work with. Success comes from taking small steps, smart steps. In the spirit of agile methodologies take the first step as quickly as possible. Look at what you have at hand and work with that. Also look at what that step might cost you if things might not work out. This allows you to gain traction and get others back on track.

Listen to yourself and inspect and adapt with every step. Now we have freed ourselves from traditional cascading project methodologies there are countless opportunities to learn at every step of the way.

Be accountable

All too often we find ourselves over enthusiastic and promising things we cannot deliver. We excuse ourselves being busy if we excuse ourselves at all. From my experience in managing projects and communities I found people even being insulted when reminding them of a promise.

Looking at what we previously talked about it is easier to show a small step than it is to take a jump. Maybe it is not even the individual promise you missed, but being in the mindset of not caring it is the cumulative impact that will not let you get back on track.

  • No time for an hour-long meeting? Do a 10-minute stand up.
  • No time to write a blogpost? Write a paragraph.
  • No time to take the afternoon off? Take half an hour and go outside, leaving your mobile at your desk.
  • Stick to your schedule, even in small ways.

Say no

Collaboration can be demanding. We are in it for the community and as the hierarchy fades away there are more individuals and teams that are on the same level playing field. Your expertise and skills are in high demand and everyone wants a piece of you. You want to say yes, but to remain in control and deliver quality it might be time to say NO.

If you get another request just step back, take a breath and think about how this fits in your workload. What are the benefits? Now you do not have to be blunt with a straight out NO, but you can also think about offering an alternative or schedule the request for a later date. If you say no say it in person (or through any other visual communication). Saying no in an email can be experienced as rather rude.


Where things can go really wrong is when people find themselves in a position where they do not care any more. This will quickly destroy your project.

Getting into a project in a genuine manner is vital. We are not dealing with a management method, any more, where we put financial returns to the forefront, even though they are of course an essential part of why a company is in the game. Collaboration, people and communication in the limelight.

Connect to people in your team or project and communicate mindfully. Engage with awareness and really listen to what your team members have to say. You will see them light up. Bring out the best of yourself to bring out the best of someone else.

Moving Forward

We discussed a number of methods that can help you get your project back on track. While each and every method covers a specific topic, all have a few things in common that I would like to relate to as your true inner collaboration. Be mindful of what goes on around you in the project.

Take a pause, a step back before you are forced to. Be genuine and authentic in the way you act. This will keep your project moving forward.

Featured photo by Dominik Martin on Unsplash

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