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Gingerbread Crime Scene

After a horrific crime scene at school nearly left our son traumatized for life, I think a better stakeholder management strategy could have been used.

About a month or so ago, our son and his classmates all made little paper gingerbread men (and women).  They were all so proud of their creative achievements.  All was well in the world, until they returned to their classroom one day to discover the little gingerbread people were gone.  Nothing was left but some glitter (gingerbread blood) on the floor.

The story they were told was a leprechaun and fox had broken into the school and captured all of the gingerbread people.  I can’t remember at this point where the story came from.  One of our son’s friends went so far as to say he saw the leprechaun chasing the little guys and gals.  Don’t you just love the imagination of the 5-year-old?

Unfortunately, this left some of the kids very distressed.  They didn’t know the big picture.  We, as the parents, did.  What actually happened was the gingerbread folk were mailed all over the country to friends and family.

Photos were taken and, about a week ago, there was a return of the the Gingerbreads.  Our little man went to visit a family friend in California.  Mr. Gingerbread made some friends, took in the sites, did a little lounging, and even wrote our son a letter.

Hello Jacob!

WOW, what a fun week I’ve had here in California!

Upon landing at the airport, I rented this really cool car and went for a nice drive around the Orange County area. This area has so many nice beaches, parks and shopping centers! The city I stayed in is called IRVINE.

I did not know that the weather could be SO nice and warm during the Fall/Winter season! I was happy to be able to enjoy some sun and get a nice tan by the pool!

The day I arrived it was 80 degrees here!

The traffic in California is very heavy, but I got to learn the roads and freeways pretty quickly!

I also got a chance to visit a city called San Juan Capistrano and toured the historical MISSIONS.

Now it’s time to go back home and see you and all my friends again!

Gingerbread Man

So what is the Project Management hook?  When you’re busy planning project activities, put yourself in the shoes of the stakeholder or Product Owner.  Are they going to react positively or negatively to your plan? You should have individual Stakeholder Management Strategies identified.  Though our son was near tears by the idea of a leprechaun and fox breaking into his classroom and killing off Mr. Gingerbread, we were there to be supportive and convinced him the outcome wasn’t so dire.

Did you see the leprechaun killing Mr. Gingerbread and his friends?

Did you know that gingerbread people are known to be very fast…faster than foxes and leprechauns?

Though it all worked out in the end, I wouldn’t recommend trying this on a Kindergarten class.  The gingerbreads could have easily left notes saying they were all going on vacations and avoided all of the drama an carnage.

About Derek Huether

I'm Vice President of Enterprise Engagements at LeadingAgile. I'm super focused on results. But I also take the hand waving out of organizational transformations. I come from a traditional PM background but I don't give points for stuff done behind the scenes. The only thing that counts is what you get done and delivered. Author of Zombie Project Management (available on Amazon)

2 Responses to “Gingerbread Crime Scene”

  1. January 18, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    How terribly traumatic for your son, Derek!! It reminds me of biology class where we nursed baby chicks only to come in one day and find them legs up on the dissection table! LOL At least the gingerbread men got to go on a trip and arrive safely home.

    It’s very true that managing expectations is a critical part of our work. The image of your son’s entire class frozen in anxiety on finding their the gingerbread men were just…gone…is something we project managers would do well to remember before taking action that could leave our stakeholders in a similar state!

    • Anonymous
      January 18, 2011 at 3:34 pm

      My wife told me (after the fact) that the whole scenario of foxes, leprechauns, and “gmen” was told to the kids before “the event”. It was as though a story had come to life. Our son didn’t tell it like that. A 5-year-old’s imagination can go wild with the monster under the bed. I think the safe return on his gman put the whole even behind him.

      With stakeholders, it’s like you’re dealing with Chicken Little. Manage stakeholder expectations well or the sky will appear to fall.

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