Kill the Zombies

Kill the Zombies

It’s October.  Monsters are appearing. Living dead zombies are lurking around looking for handouts.

Similar to some projects at work, zombie projects are like the living dead. These are the low-value projects that are barely alive. They are starving for money, for resources and for people. They get no love.

Projects starving for attention subtly schlep people’s time and energy away from higher value projects. If this is the case, kill them. Kill them so the more important work will be delivered sooner with fewer interruptions.

Many companies have difficulty killing projects once started because of the sunk cost fallacy. In The Principles of Product Development FLOW, Don Reinertsen suggests that we should only consider the incremental investment needed to finish the project compared to its economic return.  Purging low-value jobs from the work queue makes sense whenever there is a surplus of high-value jobs. In other words, when work-in-progress (WIP) is high, purge the low-value projects.

It’s ok to kill the zombies.  If they are really needed, zombie projects can return from the dead.

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