Sunday, October 03, 2004

Why Continue a Bad Project?

This comes up often in the business world. During the lifecycle of a project, one has to periodically review the possibility of stopping. This course is needed when the original goal is no longer desired, the cost of the project has increased beyond the value of the result, or if the goal is no longer attainable. It's a tough decision to make, because the project manager has to admit that the decision to begin may have been wrong and that valuable resources have been wasted. However, it would be worse to continue to waste the resources just to save face or justify the costs so far.

This is an accepted part of project management, and someone who has to pull the plug will gain humility, as well as valuable insight that will help in future decisions.

This concept came to mind when watching the presidential debate last week. The question was if the gains in Iraq were worth the loss of life so far (1000+ soldiers, plus many foreign civilians and untold numbers of Iraqis). The President was obviously upset by the question - pointing out that to even question the military action there sends a bad message to the troops. Senator Kerry answered that we must not confuse the war with the warriors. These are brave, dedicated men and women who are ready to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country and this cause. However, should we continue to risk their lives, and take advantage of their selflessness, just to justify previous losses? Admitting that we shouldn't be there, and that this horrible situation will not get better regardless of how many people die, will show the troops, and the families of the dead soldiers, that the commander-in-chief is truly looking out for the best interests of both the military forces and the country.

It's time to apply straight forward business sense to the decision making process and not let emotions and nostalgia guide our policies. Our military forces are looking to the President for sensible leadership. Can we get someone in office who will provide it?

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