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Professional practice over heroic efforts

To achieve your desired project outcomes, and create a sustainable culture, avoid ‘heroic endeavour’.

We’ve all put in extra effort to hit a due date or complete a project stage. But if you spend your day putting out fires, figuratively or otherwise, your organization
needs more maturity.

The goal of every project team should be to attain and maintain professional endeavour. Too often, though, companies reward behaviour that appears to go
‘above and beyond’. Doing so should only be a last resort and not the de facto culture.

‘Heroic’ and ‘professional’ endeavour are two ends of a spectrum. You’ll recognize the traits in the table below. Paradoxically, heroic endeavour can deliver projects. The risk is that teams get used to crossing the point of operation beyond the ‘workload failure’ boundary and the boundary of ‘required acceptable performance’.

That danger zone makes the organization more susceptible to having a significant undesirable event, that will impact its reputation.

On projects, early signs are delays or disruptions to progress and/or productivity. When this happens, the organization tends to overspend in an attempt to recover the situation—and not always successfully.

While we all want to be heroes, such a culture is immature and, ultimately, counterproductive.


[Image credit: ‘We can be heroes’, Gabriel Bassino on Unsplash]