How to Rescue Failing Software Projects: Practical Proven Methods That Work

IMG_1712 My book is finally available as an eBook, on Amazon Kindle and on Amazon. I wrote this book to share my experience in how to rescue failing software projects. When I was going through such a situation, I had no one to turn to. My hope is that the information in this book will be useful to those in similar situations. Although the information in the book pertains to software projects, I have come to realize that the techniques can be used in many other situations. I have personally used these techniques in business and technical projects.

You can read more about it here.
My book can be purchased here at
Amazon Kindle version is available here at

Monday, May 28, 2007

You distracted me from my goals

Goals, goals, goals. An overused word? Everyone talks about it. Every achiever talks about it. There is much more talk than action. Strong words, but words from a shrewd observer nonetheless. :-)

We are often disappointed about goals, about setting them, the trepidation of thinking about them. No one wants to fail. How often do we set goals, get enthusiastic about it, take action. A few days later, a friend, colleague, relative tells you that you shouldn't waste your time on such futile pursuits. They may tell you that the goal is not lofty. Rather, you should consider doing this other 'thing' that can surely accelerate your growth, they would say.

These are all distractions. This is one reason why many do not attempt at taking action, or take action and keep changing their targets until there isn't a clear target anymore.

Its like a platoon of soldiers at the frontline during a battle. The commander says the objective to capture 'lofty goals hill'. The platoon commander plans for it, disseminates the plans to his troops. Before they move off, a change in plan. 'Lofty goals hill' doesn't look that lofty anymore. The new objective is 'More lofty goals hill'. So, the platoon commands plans and disseminates the plans again and the troops move out. Halfway though battle, 'More lofty goals hill' is not the objective anymore. Its now 'Ultimate goals hill'. While holding the fort at the frontlines, the platoon commander re-plans and disseminates the plans for his troops.

What do you think his troops will do? If I were his troop, I'd probably shoot the commander myself! :-)

This is an example where the goals change often that it confuses you, makes you lethargic, makes you demoralised and stop taking action. You get disillusioned with goal setting and taking action, and say that its all too esoteric and doesn't work. Its all hogwash. Let's take a look at another scenario.

The objective is again 'lofty goals hill'. The platoon commander plans for it, disseminates the plans to his troops. The troops move out. At the base of the objective, they realise that the intelligence gathered is not very accurate. They need to do a flank around the base and find another gap in. The command re-plans his next move and disseminates the plans to his troops. The troops move to the other side of 'lofty goals hill' and spots a potential gap. They breach that gap and gain foothold at the base, while the other troops fan-out left and right of the gap. The troops on the left continue to move upwards towards the top of 'lofty goals hill'. The troops on the right face strong firepower. They re-plan their next move and decide to hold their position, while a small crack team flanks and overruns the enemy. In time, the troops on the left overruns the enemy at the top of the hill while the troops on the right kept the enemy so busy they didn't notice the troops on the left.

What's the moral of this story? Its that the strategy to achieve your goals can change as circumstances keep changing everyday. The goals or outcome should remain the same, unless there is a strong compelling reason to change the outcome. This doesn't mean that goals are cast in concrete. On the contrary, if there is a strong enough reason to abandon the goal, do so, only after you have thoroughly clarified its impact and you are true to yourself that its in your best interest to change your goal.

So, do not be easily distracted by mere heresay. Everyone has opinions, but there is only you who has to take action and bear the results. Its just like buying a car. You will hear differing opinions. Some will say buying a larger more expensive car is value for money (I don't see how that can be true). But the ultimate decision lies with you and it is you who will bear the result. In this case, you will bear the cost of the car and car loans, not the person who recommended his opinion about which car you should get. Everyone will see you in a nice brand new expensive car, but you will only see yourself footing the huge bill that's burning a hole in your pocket.

Distractions are good in that when they are evaluated against the context of your goal and your values, they provide a test to your resolve. It can be used to clarify your actions and thoughts, but not to be taken at face value.


Copyright © Bernard Ong, 2006,2007.
All Rights Reserved

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