Can’t We Just Skip It?

Project management is more than following a plan, it’s doing things for a reason.

Not going to lie, the week before last was chaotic and stressful for me. When Scott asked about posting my blog my answer was… “Can’t we just skip it?”

He was astute enough to recognize my challenging week and offered me a pass, allowing my human frailty to creep into our blogging process. I was grateful and momentarily relieved. In doing so he also gently reminded me of our many good reasons to blog. Next he subtly asked if any of those reasons went away, which they had not and, of course, which he knew I knew.

For those following along here, he actually just said “No, we really can’t skip it” but he skip itdid it by getting me to come to that conclusion myself. (And so the Jedi became the Master.)

Truth be told, I didn’t like the reminder. It was not the answer I wanted. But, he was right. We do things for a reason and if that reason is gone or becomes invalid, it’s time to re-evaluate the whole deal.

All this gives me a sense of déjà vu. How many times have you been working on something and said those words? C’mon. Fess up. You know you have. Need a nudge? Here are a few reminders from my own experiences of having to say, No we really can’t skip it.

The weekly project team meeting pops up on your calendar …Can’t we just skip it?

You request a minor change and get asked to document it…. Can’t we just skip it?

A stakeholder wants to talk for the nineteenth time about the same issue…. Can’t we just skip it?

The virtual meeting software is not working for the global status update …. Can’t we just skip it?

A user logs a service ticket for something that is really a training concern…. Can’t we just skip it?

This little phrase tells you something is not working properly. “Can’t we just skip it” is a red flag. The meeting has become unproductive, the process is too cumbersome, or the message has been diluted. More likely it’s some combination of all those things.

When things have a clear purpose it is much easier for people to take up the cause and get it done, whatever it may be. It’s when they begin to feel there is no point or not enough value in doing it that skipping it comes up. It may be that the project evolved to a point where startup meetings or a process is no longer useful. Or it could be that the rationale for doing it has been co-mingled with other unrelated things. Either way nobody is gaining value. It’s time to make a choice.

Option 1 – Refocus. Go back and reconsider the original purpose. Determine if it is being met and if not, why not. This is a good opportunity to ask if it ever really met the need. Get your stakeholders involved, solicit feedback, and define what will be modified. You’ll need everyone’s buy in and commitment to adjust their behaviors accordingly or you will find yourself in this same spot again in the not too distant future.

Option 2 – Refrain. Perhaps the activity should cease all together. If the purpose of what you are doing doesn’t satisfy the need, it makes sense to stop doing it. The crucial step to refraining: you have to make a conscious strategic choice to no longer follow the process. If you evaluate and conclude it no longer makes sense, stopping is a solid management decision. If you stop just because it is hard, well that is just giving up, which is not management. It’s going along for the ride. Not the hallmark of a well-run project.

The next time you hear that plea to ‘just skip it’ you’ll know it’s time to take action. Review, consider and decide.

Can you identify the reason(s) behind all of your critical meetings, processes and activities?

Did you skip something you wanted to do? Do you still want to do it? Maple is the perfect spot for getting your Thoughts together before making a decision.  Try it at

Originally published on October 18, 2011

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