Always Ask the Zeroth Question About Your Projects

2012 Johanna Rothman

Sometimes, you wonder why you are doing this project. You spend all this time on it, you’re sure there isn’t much value from the project, and still, the project is on the top of your manager’s list.

There’s a zeroth question you can ask that might help the conversation. The question is this:

‘Should We Do This Project at All?’

Sometimes, in the heat of the project portfolio discussion, you, your managers, whomever is discussing the project forgets to ask themselves this question. Now is a good time to remember.

If you are part of a leadership team and you are evaluating the project portfolio, make sure you ask this of each project in the project portfolio. If you are a technical person working on a project you don’t think is worth the work, nudge your manager, ‘Did you ask the Zeroth question?’

If the answer is ‘No’, don’t worry. It’s okay to ask the question now. If the project is not worth doing, stop the project and start something that is worth doing.

If the project is worth doing, great. You can make sure you have everything you need.

That zeroth question is key to managing your personal or corporate project portfolio. It allows you to see if the project is worth your time to do or not do. And, if you are managing your personal project portfolio it helps you assess whether to do the project at all.

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