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Our organization conducts a program called "Your Samaritan", where somebody will support the employee to cope with the situation, listen to the issues and guide. Many of those Samaritans are senior most people in the organization.

The Samaritans will also not step into the organization system to solve problems of policies or appraisals, but be a friend in need for the employee.

I am in dilemma to nominate for that event or not. I am not sure whether it brings any good for me which improves situation with particular tough situation (described in details below) or not. If that doesn't bring any good, it is not worth to tell somebody how I get screwed up.


I have been associated with current organization for last 5 years. In my last project a big mess happened. I was onsite lead for that project. Marketing team promised moon to win the project, project management team forced take up project, very little support from higher management and having less capable team, who had little exposure about the framework and technology used by project including myself.

Many of my seniors and leads are escaped and quit from the project. When it reached full blown stage, where client expresses serious concerns, higher project management stepped in and made me as scape goat as I am only one senior person in the team and thrown out of the project. I was returned back to offshore again.

I strongly believe what was happened to me was unfair. However I have seen many scenarios where fighting back and going to HR and other similar actions make the situation worse. Hence I am avoiding that path.

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unless that "Samaritan program" is totally screwed up, this sounds like a great opportunity. Based on what I've seen and heard about similar programs where I used to work, I would run for it. And, well, "not worth to tell somebody how I get screwed up" shouldn't objectively be a problem, except for a subjective one if you belong to the culture that values "saving face" over self improvement –  gnat Dec 21 '12 at 11:04

4 Answers 4

I'd want to focus on a particular point that you put as a major obstacle in joining the mentoring program:

If that doesn't bring any good, it is not worth to tell somebody how I get screwed up.

If you plan for a career in software development, you'd better drop that attitude and instead, learn how to present your past project failures in a mature way and how to show what you have learned from these.

Thing is, having failures under your belt is considered a sign of true seniority in this profession (assuming of course that one is capable of presenting these appropriately). For an eloquent explanation for why it's so, refer to this fantastic answer in an earlier question at Workplace. The whole answer is well worth studying, but for my purposes, I'll quote only part of it here:

Judgement comes not from success, but from failures. Most companies want to hire people that have had their failures paid for by previous companies, that is why they require N+ years of experience - it implies they made all the basic, entry level mistakes already and someone else had to pay for them.

...Even the most skilled don't achieve success without a proportional amount of failure. This is how good judgement is earned.

You see, being able to tell about past failures could leverage your career, not break it. Of course, this would work only if done right. And no, plain "they sucked and I got screwed" won't bring you positive score in seniority contest. From this perspective, an opportunity given to you, a chance to discuss this with someone senior, experienced and willing to help is really invaluable.

I think if discussions with mentor will "train" you to properly tell your failure story, this alone could make it well worth joining the program. In that sense, I'd "revert" your statement quoted in the beginning:

  • it is worth to discuss with good mentor how you get screwed up even if that doesn't bring anything else

As an example, mentor can help you identify which of the known kind Death March projects you were involved in last time, and maybe teach you how to recognize and survive various death marches in the future. Or they can introduce and guide you through ideas like presented in Scott Berkun essay: How to learn from your mistakes. This is sure also doable through self-learning, but knowledgeable mentor can facilitate much more efficient study.

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My vote is nominate for that program. Since Samaritan is one of the senior member from the management. Ask the below questions

  • How can you protect your self when such things are happening in project?
  • How to identify who will helps to make the situation better and approach them in professional way with out hurting any body?
  • Now what else you can do in order subside the negative effect of that instance on your future career growth and opportunities?

All the best.

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If anything, your reputation and perceived value stands to suffer more if you do NOT make these details known to someone. If your company has this Samaritan program in place, why not use it? As you said, you've already been thrown out of the project, so what do you have to lose?

However, in addition to what you've written, maybe you should also bring to the table what lessons you've learned from being in that situation and what you will do next time to prevent a project from failing. Your previous project may have been a bust, but you now are aware of some early warning signs of a doomed project, such as over-promising. You have directly experienced what can happen to make a project fail. You may well have learned more about effective project management from this than you did from any of your successful projects. Make sure your Samaritan understands this.

Since the Samaritan is a member of upper management, when you start to see some of these problems in future projects, you can go back to him and say "Remember that project I was in a while back that failed? Well, I'm starting to see some warning signs in my current project that indicate a similar path towards failure." Then, the Samaritan can use his/her managerial powers to help you nip the problems in the bud.

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If there is a support/mentoring process in place inside your company it suggests to me that this kind of thing is not all that uncommon.

More importantly, perhaps, IT-related projects fail a lot - infact they tend to fail more than they are sucessful. Most of the statistics I have looked at suggest over 70% of projects fail in some way - breaking one aspect of the "iron triangle" and not meeting expectations on cost, delivery time, or capability.

There is a wealth of information available online that examines reasons why projects fail. As people have indicated learning from your own mistakes is very important, however you can also learn from the mistakes of others. .

In a recent strategy session, our in-house lawyer pointed out that studies show that the best lawyers are pessimists, because they assume things will go wrong and manage the risks.

To me, good project managers need to be able to do this as well. They also need to go one step further and create processes to help communicate, mitigate and manage the risk factor that can lead to project failures.

From your description, I suspect you are correct and that many of the more experienced senior staff could see this project was going to fail, and found ways to withdraw from it.

While the outcome you have doesn't sound particularly fair, I would agree that continuing to fight against the "accepted version" of events is unlikely to achieve any kind of win. In a win-lose battle, your can expect HR to side with management to protect the company more often than not.

So I would suggest

  • take heart in the fact that you are not alone, and IT projects fail more often than not
  • engage with the mentoring programme, and discuss why things went wrong
  • do some personal research into the causes of IT project failures
  • apply these to your project, and try and identify what risks you didn't manage well
  • discuss this with your mentor, to understand how to mitigate these risks in future
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