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Put Eeyore To Work

Eeyore(Originally published in Iowabiz.com in May 2007)

We've all seen them.  We call them devils' advocates or naysayers.  We joke about their constantly negative disposition behind their backs.  We cringe when they are invited to brainstorming sessions.  We try to work around them because we know they will kill the idea with a litany of reasons why it won't work.

What do you do when Eeyore is on your project team?

There is actually a very good role for the project stakeholders who are all too willing to tell you why your project isn't a good idea:  put them in charge of risk management.  Managing risks is an activity that too many project managers let slip through the cracks.  They don't like to think that something might go wrong on their watch, and so they try to ignore all of the speedbumps and potholes in the road... until it's too late.

Oh, bother.

That's where the resident Eeyore is of value.  This is a person who will tell you what can go wrong, why it will go wrong, when it will go wrong, and exactly how it will go wrong.  Instead of avoiding Eeyore, harness all of that great negativity in the planning phase of your project.  Eeyore is now happy, because somebody finally listened to him.  You can be happy, because many of the potential pitfalls of your project have been identified and you can deal with them proactively.  Your team is happy because Eeyore has the negativity out of his system (it's been documented, right?), and they can all move forward.

See?  In projects, there's generally a role for everybody.


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Amy Derby

Nice post. I am an Eeyore-wannabe. ;-)

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