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Senior Correspondent

Every reason projects stall comes back to one, lack of urgency.

Foggy deliverables, inadequate resources, blurred priorities, under qualified participants, and distant deadlines inevitably drain urgency.

Who’s responsible:

Save time, energy and resources by settling the question of responsibility for derailed projects, quickly. Leaders are responsible, always.

Now that we know who’s responsible, always ask “what questions," first. Save “why questions” for later, if at all.

“Why” matters, but, don’t meet to discuss why the project stalled. Why questions invite excuses, assign blame, and delay progress. We already know why. Someone didn’t deliver.

Determine why by asking what.

Three questions:

Restart stalled projects by asking three questions to each team member, privately, never in public meetings.

  1. What have you completed?
  2. What can you do next?
  3. When can you have the next step done?

Explore, don’t blame. Momentum grows by looking forward, not back.

Regarding question two:

Restarting requires next steps to be simple, quickly achievable, and clearly observable.

Regarding question three:

Question three establishes a deadline.

You may prefer assigning rather than asking for deadlines. It depends on how well you know team members and how familiar you are with the project. In either case, set one.

Short timelines energize urgency. Ask what can be done by Friday?

The next meeting:

Schedule your next meeting the day of the deadline you established when you asked question three. At that meeting ask the three questions again.

In between:

Between the personal conversations where you asked the three questions and the next meeting, contact each team member to ask where they are and determine what they need. Remind them of Friday’s meeting.

Managing projects goes far beyond asking three questions. Use this strategy for two to four weeks to restart stalled projects, assuming they should be revitalized. Urgency enables you to deal with deeper issues and adapt as you go.


What steps or strategies have you used to restart stalled projects?

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