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Why do we do Projects?

Why do we start and do Projects?

By Claude Emond

I believe we were born to be happy and that the projects we do together can and must make us happier

happy balloons

Since many years now, I start my project management workshops, seminars and courses with a simple group exercise.

I split the audience into smaller groups of 4 to 5 people and ask them to answer to the following question:

“WHY do you start and do projects?”

There is a catch, however, as I ask them to DRAW the answer, using only symbols, no word allowed. I also ask them to answer to this question from a personal “Why do «?” perspective, and to make sure they use the “5 Whys” technique to find the ultimate purpose of doing projects.

Over the years, I got hundreds of answers “drawn” for this question. The vast majority of groups get easily the ultimate answer, because the answer to this seldom asked question is so obvious when asked properly.

A few answers reflect an unfinished use of the 5 Whys technique (falling short of a why or two); when this happens, I ask the group a couple of extra “whys” and they quickly and easily find the ultimate answer. “Non-ultimate” answers are:

  • To improve things in our lives and that of our families and our dear ones
  • To better our lives
  • To grow
  • To be recognized
  • To deserve praise and receive awards

To get them to the ultimate answer, I ask them:

  • How does that make you “feel”?
  • What do you think is the purpose of life?
  • Are projects done to meet this purpose?
  • So why then do we do projects?

What follows is a slideshow presenting a very representative sample of what people draw as an answer:

The ultimate answer is quite obvious. Do you know it now?

All your comments and reflections on this most important question are welcome here. Don’t worry, be happy!

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