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Enthusiasm - A Project Success Factor?

In March 2000 I joined optical network startup Baylight Networks in the UK (in May 2000 acquired by Corvis Corp. USA). At the time a 50 pages Powerpoint presentation and a garage office that required painting, telephone and Ethernet cabling was all there was.

In the following 5 months we moved to the US and ramped up a team of approx. 130 colleagues from 4 continents (roughly 50% SW developers). After 21 months in total we successfully shipped the first product release of a carrier class optical switch (3 completely new ASICs, 8 completely new circuit boards, 2 backplanes and several million lines of source code). I have never been involved in a project before or after this one, where I felt so much enthusiasm for what I was doing almost every day.

Back then I learned that having teams that are enthusiastic about their project and daily work will increase the likelihood of this project's success. Successful not only for the project teams itself, but also for clients, executive management, suppliers and users of the end product. Most project team members and stakeholders will experience a beneficial effect during the project - some positive energy that can be measured in a higher motivation and resistance to stress, or a higher level of satisfaction with your own performance or the team performance for example.

This positive feedback loop leads to a better quality project outcome or product: Communication in the project team is more intensive and less distorted, fewer errors will be made, team alignment is better and every individual contributes better with respect to the common goal - just to list some few beneficial effects.

Several years and many, partially cumbersome projects later, I personally realized the importance of enthusiasm as a major project success factor again. And the question of "Is there a recipe for generating enthusiasm in a project?" started to come back into my focus. Maybe it is not a recipe, maybe it is just a bunch of ingredients and a recipe must be developed for every new project from scratch.

An interesting question. Maybe I will come closer to an answer during PMcamp Karlsruhe 2015.  

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