Departing from a project is not (and should not) be taken as the end of one’s life. While dying is final and the end of all things, moving off a project (whether by desire or by force) is merely an opportunity to move on to something else. Be that as it may, departing from a project is most often accompanied (not immediately, but not long after) by an informal obituary. I have witnessed many such obituaries where ex-project managers were subject to public trial and where their performance was subject to public scrutiny, aimed (most often – though not always) at demonstrating how their poor performance has led to current issues and difficulties. With this knowledge I can confidently assume that such observations must have been thrown around my name as well as, I too, have had the pleasure of moving out of organisations having completed my projects.

Criticising or (unlikely as this might seem) praising past project managers should not be subject to personal whims and I am therefore proud to present a set of pre-configured statements one could easily assemble in order to reflect on a departed project manager’s performance.

So here we go:

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today not to mourn a death but rather to celebrate an end. Not an end of a person but an end of a [traumatising, debilitating and shocking / wonderful, productive and inspiring] era in the life and history of our organisation.

[Insert first and last name] has joined our organisation round about [insert appropriate chronological reference] as we were embarking on, a project that was meant to take [insert planned duration] but ended up taking [insert actual duration].

With [insert first name] no longer with us it is incumbent upon us to look back and reflect on [his / her] performance so the lessons learned from that [sad / unfortunate / miserable / outstanding / magnificent / inspiring] experience can be taken into account before [hiring / firing / accepting] future project managers to such challenging and demanding roles.

It is [heart breaking / sad / unfortunate / exciting / appropriate] to admit that [insert first name] was a real [genius / useless / failure / disappointment / inspiration]. [His / Her] effort to bring the project to a complete and utter [success / failure] will be long remembered.

Reflecting on [insert first name here]’s performance I would like to highlight the following factors:

[He / She] was:

[First / Last] to arrive and [First / Last] to leave;

Demonstrated [deep / shallow] understanding of the business needs;

Was [easy / difficult] to deal with and often made people [cry / smile] after [tedious / interesting] project discussions;

[thorough and exhaustive / superficial and flimsy] in his approach to risk management;

had a unique skill for being [succinct and to the point / unduly elaborate and disorganised] in [his / her] project status reports;

and overall was a complete [pleasure / disaster] to work with.

We will [miss / not miss] [insert first name here] dearly and hope not to see [him / her] [ever again / very soon].”

With the above in mind, here’s one I prepared for myself on the occasion of just finishing and leaving a project and an organisation:

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today not to mourn a death but rather to celebrate an end. Not an end of a person but an end of a traumatising, debilitating and shocking era in the life and history of our organisation.

Shim Marom has joined our organisation round about Easter 2008 as we were embarking on the transformation project, a project that was meant to take 13 months but ended up taking three and a half years.

With Shim no longer with us it is incumbent upon us to look back and reflect on his performance so the lessons learned from that miserable experience can be taken into account before accepting future project managers to such challenging and demanding roles.

It is heart breaking to admit that Shim was a real disappointment. His effort to bring the project to a complete and utter failure will be long remembered.

Reflecting on Shim‘s performance I would like to highlight the following factors:

He was:

Last to arrive and First to leave;

Demonstrated shallow understanding of the business needs;

Was difficult to deal with and often made people cry after tedious project discussions;

superficial and flimsy in his approach to risk management;

had a unique skill for being unduly elaborate and disorganised in his project status reports;

and overall was a complete disaster to work with.

We will not miss Shim dearly and hope not to see himever again.”

Think about it!

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