Is there any room for personal consideration in a project schedule?

Have you ever noticed that some projects flow smooth as warm butter-and some you need to drag along? I’ve had my share of both types of projects. Further, I have not yet found the magic way to start or the secret incantation to use to produce smooth projects every time.


The photo is of a project that I did in upstate New York. In spite of being several states away from my home base, designed by an architect that I only met on the phone and built by a contractor I didn’t know-coming from the other end of the state…it was a smooth project and it finished early.

My ego pushes to say that it was a shining example of my managerial skills! It wasn’t. After lots of review, critique and feedback from the client and consultants, we determined that our joint success was just a lucky mix of the right people on the right job at the right time.

That brings me around to the point of today’s post- If you determine that one of your team is dropping the ball…should you replace him or her?

I’ve been stubborn about this for my entire career, sending the weak link home most every time. On a seven-week restaurant remodel project, I kept getting bad vibes from the project superintendent. He was a week behind schedule after only 2 weeks on the job. The contractor assured me that he was experienced and fit. After another week, I determined to my satisfaction that the superintendent was over his head and told the contractor to replace him-or better yet, to run the job himself. Again, he talked me into letting the whomper-jawed monkey stay on the job. This decision led to me providing my client with an inferior product-late.

I should have sent him home that 2nd week

The very next project was another restaurant remodel with a four week schedule. This time I hand-picked my favorite contractor and my favorite superintendent. We negotiated a “cost plus a fee” contract and I thought I was gonna have a smooth sail. In fact, I determined that this was the best time for me finally pull the trigger on moving my home and business. Almost from the start, the superintendent had a dazed look that reminded me of once seeing a deer up close, on a dirt road with a spotlight. (Never mind what I was doing in the woods at night with a spotlight.) I went ahead and moved anyway. The project got further and further behind. I went from providing daily task sheets to hanging out on the job, following the super around.

You’ve all guessed by now that my presence on the job every day added to the super’s frustration (I found out later that he was having family troubles) and ultimately led to a confrontation that ended with him being sent home. The contractor sent a much less experienced man to finish the job. In my memory, at least, all he did was overeat and drink during training and pre-opening activities. This time the product was good-but late. In a future post, I’ll explore this question further.

For now I still lean toward taking the rotten apple out of the project barrell, but it is much more difficult and thought provoking when you know them.

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