by Jim Vaughan

Shock and Awe

Oct 06, 2009
IT Leadership

What do you do when your project comes to an end?

I happened to be in New Jersey that day. I called a good friend of mine and asked what it was like in Chicago. Was it crazy there? His quick response was, “We’re out.” I think I blurted some expletive thinking he was joking around with me. After doing this back and forth a few times I came to realize that he wasn’t joking. Chicago was voted out of the 2016 Olympics in the first round. Shock and awe. That is what I felt and, from all the news reports and people I talked to, that was what the Daley center looked like that day. Those thousands that had gathered with hopes of seeing the Olympics come to Chicago were in shock and awe.

I know people that spent over three years of their lives preparing the bid for Chicago. I think that is longer than the average generation X’er holds a job. So what do you do when your project comes to an end?

By definition a project has a beginning and an end. The hope is that the end is successful. Also by definition a project entails some degree of risk. That risk can cause failure or, as in the case of the Chicago Olympic bid, an abrupt end. Those on the Olympic committee, Mayor Daley, the Obamas, and millions of others including Oprah Winfrey knew that this risk existed. But still it was shock and awe.

All project managers know that their project will come to an end. If they are doing the right thing, they are planning for what they will do once the project does come to an end. Between projects project managers must take stock in themselves. They must pick themselves up, dust themselves off and prepare for the next project. They should conduct their own lessons learned as part of their personal assessment. They should consider what they have learned that will prepare them for the next project. They must celebrate the successes within this project that has some to an end.

Check out the web site to the Chicago bid ( There they are celebrating their successes. What came out of this project is a new organization dedicated to promoting sports for the youth of Chicago. This organization, I believe, this will grow much larger. ( The plans the team prepared may also lead to new housing developments in a long abandoned area of Chicago and perhaps even an expanded harbor area. All of these projects were dreams of the Chicago 2016 Olympic committee. All of these dreams would have benefitted both the Olympics and Chicago. Now “The City That Works” can continue these dreams for the benefit of the city.

So when your project comes to an end take the time to think about what you have learned. Consider the accomplishments you made along the way. Think about the knowledge that you have gained. Consider the lives you have touched. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on to the next project.