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Project Management Hall of Fame: Top Project Management Cliches

career project management tools Aug 01, 2022
Project Management Hall of Fame: Top Project Management Cliches

Every industry has its own jargon, TLAs (three-letter acronyms), inside jokes (think TPS report), and cliches. The project management industry is no different. There are people who go through their entire day spewing out nothing more than TLAs and well-placed grunts and groans. What’s more, everyone around them understands what they are saying! 

Want to really keep people on their toes? Throw out some of these top project management cliches from time to time and they won’t know what hit them! 

Anything is Possible with Enough Time or Money 

When management or a customer asks if a project can be done by a certain date, you’ve learned over your career that it’s best not to say, “Are you Crazy?” and have replaced it with this less accusatory statement (above). Translation: Are you Crazy? 

You Can Have GOOD, FAST, or CHEAP. Pick Two. 

A variation on “anything is possible with enough time or money,” this clicheā€Ætricks others into thinking they have some sense of control. It’s really an illusion, because you will rarely find someone who says they would like something good and cheap and could care less how long it takes; or, fast and cheap and could care less about the quality. This will take them back to their favorite sandwich shop’s “You Pick Two” lunch special. 

I Just Need a Rough Estimate. I Won’t Hold You to It. 

Riiiigghht. You know that as soon as someone gives you a “rough” estimate, it’s being thrown into the project plan and treated as gospel. BTW… this is also why people give “rough” estimates that are ten times longer than what something should take. They’ve learned what “I just need a rough estimate” means! 

DRAFT. Do Not Distribute. 

This is like posting a sign that says, “Wet Paint. Do Not Touch,” or “Hot Surface. Do Not Touch”. It’s the craziest thing that we have an overwhelming need to do exactly the opposite of what we are asked to do. Sure, you can mark “DRAFT. Do Not Distribute” on whatever you want, but be prepared to defend or justify whatever is in that document that wasn’t supposed to be distributed.ā€Æ 

Here’s a 35,000-Foot View of the Project 

Being able to provide a high-level view of something is important, especially early on in a project. This means there’s a general direction and idea of what the result is going to be, but all the details haven’t been worked out yet. The problem with staying at 35,000 feet is that at some point the plane has to land! You will also need a 200-foot view, which means a deep dive into the details, problems, and issues that are ahead of this project. 

Of course, the above are all a bit tongue in cheek, but there is an element of truth behind each of these cliches. You’ve probably used some of these yourself, and have had them used on you! Just be mindful that words matter, and that what you say doesn’t cause you to become a caricature of a project manager. 

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