Dark Stormy Nights

Meme – Discouraged Disappointment

At some point, every great dream seems like a foolish undertaking.

At some point during its execution, every innovative idea face crisis in confidence.   Ambitious change begins with fanfare, but it inevitably reaches a point where unexpected problems overwhelm hope with disappointment.    

Of course traditional projects encounter difficulties too, but while frustrating these setbacks typically fall within an expected range of unhappiness.  People know that with good management and reasonable business commitment, routine projects can push through.

Innovators face deeper mires when their project runs off the road.

1)      Doubtful Success / Reward:  A whispering voice is always there to say (to both the project team and the sponsors), “Maybe this really was a foolish dream”.  No one knows if this will be a success.

2)      Betrayed Hopes:   Buy-in across the organization is often purchased with possibilities painted in bright colors.  People expect great things.   When great ideas stumble the hope and hype makes the fall seem precipitous.

3)      Impossible Problems:  Apparently unsolvable problems often rise out of nowhere.   The solutions are seldom clear and the lack of precedent makes it hard to know whether the challenges are fatal. 

A rational evaluation is not what’s needed at this point.   It can get VERY dark before a light appears.   It WILL get very dark.   Reasonable people won’t be able to cobble together a solid justification for their continued support.

It will seem foolish to go forward.

This is the nature of giving birth to an original idea.  Without unusual will and perseverance, the innovation will appear to be lost causes and crash down upon itself.   To succeed the project must find the will and means to march forward even when there is no proof that merits staying the course.  


You must find ways to continue, even when a reasonable person would quit. 

Good Reads: 

The Dip – Seth Godin

Brainstorming Questions

  • Are we in a crisis of confidence and hope?  Why?  What’s our real problem?
  • Who is going to rise to the challenge?
  • How can we keep disappointed and discouraged stakeholders from pulling out?
  • Can we postpone any decisions until things seem better?  Can we ignore orders to quit?
  • It looks hopeless, but what would the harm be in continuing ahead anyway?
  • If we’ve been abandoned, how can we continue?  New sponsor?  Skunk works? Go out on our own?

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