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How to Deal with Project Failure

Elle Atechsy
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 23, 2004
Posts: 96
Hi Everyone,

I've always found JavaRancher responses very helpful. Hopefully, some will be able to help me find my way.

I did not come from CS background. I've been in web development for approximately 9 years. Began coding in Java about 4 years ago. I have been a lead developer for most of my career, due mostly to great work ethics, egarness to learn, and positive attitude, as I am not mega technical. However, now most of that spark has burned out when it comes to coding or leading developers (which requires a lead to mentor on coding). Although, working with a team, since starting Java, as a lead, I made some bad decisions which caused some grief for us.

The biggest bad decisions were:

1 - being too enthusiastic & re-inventing the wheel by writing a content management system from scratch for a firm that only used the system to present pretty much brochure ware. It was not the company's business product.
2 - this was done without knowing who or when to ask for help from more experienced people regarding what to use to make it a simpler job. No one on team was experienced enough to implement Java design, so I did the best I could in leading a collabrative design with a team of unexperienced Java developers.

Later after initial design implementation, some more experienced developers joined team, but some times I felt that others on team knew better, and allowed me to make wrong decision anyway by not speaking out. Other times, the recommendations that I made, that were correct, were ignored, even by managers. Projects work, but was not implemented in the best way so causes lots of problems.

Now, fingers are pointing ONLY at me, and managers have no faith in my skills anymore. People in my team have made it very clear that they think the whole project was one big mistaken mess.

Now, I am looking for another job. But,

#1 I am too afraid to look for a Senior/Lead position. I don't want to experience this again.
#2 I don't think anyone at my current company will give me a decent recommendation.
#3 I'm beginning to feel that "implementation" may not be my best skill. So, I have considered
>> Project Management, but don't think I would enjoy it much because I do not like budget handing or personnel management in terms of performance reviews/hiring/firing.
>> Business Systems Analysis (the more technical positions), but everyone wants experience, and I know I require some training for some things. But for many of the positions I find, I truely believe that I can be successful at this given my technical background. It requires understanding technical concepts, but I would not have to know how to implement anything.

  • Has anyone experienced anything similar? If yes, what did you do?
  • If anyone has suddenly changed paths, what is the best way to go about doing so?
  • What can I do if I cannot obtain a decent recommendation? I am absolutely positive that I am NOT that bad, I've seen worse on my team, but they weren't the leads. Besides, who ever thinks of themselves as bad employees. That's why hiring managers ask for references.


  • Please help, I am at a loss here. I feel the career I worked so hard to obtain & maintain is slipping away from me.

    Thanks in advance for any responses.
    Henry Wong
    author
    Sheriff

    Joined: Sep 28, 2004
    Posts: 18988
        
      40

    1 - being too enthusiastic & re-inventing the wheel by writing a content management system from scratch for a firm that only used the system to present pretty much brochure ware. It was not the company's business product.


    Being a consultant, who review lots of projects, I can say that this is somewhat common. It is a classic "build vs buy" problem, and many new project leads forget that there is a cost to building and maintaining software tools too.

    This is not to say that what you did was okay. I am just saying that you are not alone in this regard.

    #1 I am too afraid to look for a Senior/Lead position. I don't want to experience this again.


    Why not? You gone through this pain already. Are you saying that you are going to make this same mistake again?


    As for the recommendation part of your question, I can't give you any pointers there. Generally, I am friends with many of my colleagues, so I can easily get recommendations. Did you "burn any bridges" as the lead? I can't imagine many of my colleagues not giving me a second chance -- no matter how big a mistake I make.

    Henry


    Books: Java Threads, 3rd Edition, Jini in a Nutshell, and Java Gems (contributor)
    Elle Atechsy
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Jan 23, 2004
    Posts: 96
    Thank you for the response.

    No I wouldn't make the same mistake again. I guess that is what I should hold on to in regards to continuing as a lead developer.

    As for burning bridges, I hope I did not. I do believe I sometimes reacted to the stress of being blamed & belittled by everyone in a way that I would not react if I was put in those situations again. The time constrait was tight, I was forced to work very long hours, 7 days a week for entire summer. At times it was all unbarable & those times I didn't handle certain things well.

    I never cursed anyone, or disrespected anyone like that. Most times I tried to be very helpful to most, even while doing lead duties I still had to jump in & do a lot of hands on as well. I Think my frustration began to show after a while, so I just do not think anyone respects me anymore, and I'm not sure what they will say to future employers. And now I don't even think they want me there anymore. It's a horrible feeling when you think that people you worked with for 6 years very well, does not seem to want you around now. Of course they do not say this aloud, but it comes out in snide comments.
    Theodore Casser
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: Mar 14, 2001
    Posts: 1902

    One thing to bear in mind - in the US (and may be true elsewhere), there's a limit to what an employer may say with regards to information on one's employment. As my father-in-law has said more than once, it's basically summed up by "Did the person work for you? Did they work the term they said they did, in the position they claimed? Would you hire them again?" (I've dealt with that myself at a former position, where there was a lot of animosity about my termination and the immediate aftermath.)

    I concur with the earlier assessment, though - talk to your coworkers, and see who might be willing to give you a recommendation. If you didn't burn any bridges, there should be at least one or two who would be amenable, and you may find that your supervisor, too, may be willing to help you out, even if the situation turned south as badly as you say.


    Theodore Jonathan Casser
    SCJP/SCSNI/SCBCD/SCWCD/SCDJWS/SCMAD/SCEA/MCTS/MCPD... and so many more letters than you can shake a stick at!
    Deepak Bala
    Bartender

    Joined: Feb 24, 2006
    Posts: 6662
        
        5

    #1 I am too afraid to look for a Senior/Lead position. I don't want to experience this again.


    Dont be afraid to fail. Failing actually makes you stronger, if you learn from it.

    If anyone has suddenly changed paths, what is the best way to go about doing so?


    Why do you want to suddenly change paths ? Is it because you dont feel confident about what you are doing right now ? Dont let one incident spoil years of your experience and work. Find out what you love doing and then do it. You will probably be good at it best


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    arulk pillai
    Author
    Ranch Hand

    Joined: May 31, 2007
    Posts: 3258
    Buy/Build is always a difficult decision to make and I usually spend some time researching available technologies/frameworks and also consult fellow talented professionals. You could do this via forums like this. We all learn from mistakes and don't be hard on yourself. I have seen lot of managers buying the wrong choice of products/tools worth 100's of thousand dollars without proper technical input or ignoring the input. So chin up .....


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