Sometimes you just have to know when to say when. At a certain point, you have to call the game.

By: Steven Mauss

Way back in 1976, an artist wrote a song that spoke to what all of us know, deep in our minds and hearts.  It was then that Don Schlitz first penned “The Gambler.”  It was later made famous by Kenny Rogers in 1978 as the title track to his album by the same name.  Other artists, including Johnny Cash, has released versions of the song, but it was Kenny Rogers’ unique voice and style that made the piece a cross-over between Country and Pop.  It took a specialist to make it special.  It shot to the top of the charts.

“The Gambler” has lyrics that simply ring true:
“You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, Know when to walk away, know when to run.”

Those words are as true today as they ever were, and they’ll be true forever.  But their application goes well beyond gambling.  Apply them to data migration efforts and you may save your project – maybe even your career.

I remember working as a contractor at a large Aerospace corporation in the Northwest U.S. more than 20 years ago.  I was brought in as a specialist to retrieve data from a few disparate systems and turn that data in to complex metrics related to project schedules and health.  While there, I met some interesting people, including people who were full-time I.T. department workers.  They were all good people, and skilled at their specific function, but they were not adept at making disparate systems work together, nor did they have much experience in Project Management.  Of course, when the project I was working on was originally assigned to them, they quickly realized the it was time “to fold ‘em!”  In gambler’s parlance, someone else had a better hand.

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The company deserves credit for realizing that specialized skill sets were needed, especially for the data migration portion of the project.  And making sense of the data with high-end Gantt and Cost reports was something they saw value in as well.  The project was successful, and several people were promoted because of it.

Of course, not all projects end this way.  Let’s not forget the next line of the song: “Know when to walk away, know when to run.”  Sometimes it makes sense to walk away from a project that has either gone too far off the rails or no longer provides value.  Knowing the difference is truly an art form.

So, talk to the people who know the difference.  Talk to the people who know when to say when and when to do what.  Talk to Knowledge Relay.

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