Roadblocks to Effective Projects

Sep 02, 2016


As a NASCAR fan, I’ve always been fascinated by how a pit stop during the race can make or break a team’s day. A car can be leading the pack for hours, come in for an inefficient or problematic pit, and come back out on the track in fifth. Conversely, a team could be struggling to stay near the head of the pack all race, make a quick and efficient pit stop, and jump up several spots in the process. As a racing team, it’s important to be on the same page about what you’re trying to accomplish, clearly define all roles, and still remember to remain flexible if something goes wrong along the way. The same can be said for great project teams. Want to stay efficient in the pits? Here are some red flags you can avoid to make sure your project team runs smoothly.


On any project, the team needs to have a clearly defined objective going in. Without one, it’s still possible for the team to move towards the overall goal, but probably not in the most efficient manner. A race team’s goal is to complete their pit stop at or under 13 seconds. If you don’t know what the objective is at the start of the project, team members may be unwittingly losing precious time. What a waste of effort and energy!


Projects are made up of a team of people—just like every NASCAR crew out there. From the crew chief down to the tire changer, every project needs to have clearly defined roles. If a project team doesn’t have someone leading the group towards the common goal, or team members are in ill-suited roles based on their expertise, it could end with a poor quality output for your client. Always ensure that your project teams are well informed of their roles on each project from the start.


At the end of the day, your job is to deliver what the client and team need. If you set out with a narrow-minded approach, your vision gets clouded to the quality and value of the end product. The pit crew has to be flexible when their car comes in for a stop. If the job requires a wrench and you’re holding a hammer, don’t just hit it with a hammer—find that wrench! Your team needs to remain flexible at all times to continue to provide the value the client or partner expects.

Just like in racing, having clear objectives, clear role clarity, and remaining flexible helps a project team avoid some of these common roadblocks to having an effective project. Being aware of these obstacles ahead of time will make your ride much smoother.