Anatomy of a “Strawdog”

Originally published via LinkedIn April 10, 2017

Strawdog: n. American. First known use: January 2017. Aka: Strawman 1. A framework of a plan, a project shell, or loosely thought-out strategy. 2. A recipe for a cluster. 3. An idea, that despite all odds, can turn into something amazing.

The following is written in jest and for fun to bring a little humor to a situation so many of us have been in. Any resemblance to an actual project is purely coincidental. Huge shout out to those teams who know how to hustle and, most importantly, have the ability to bring an idea to life against whatever challenges are thrown their way.

Day 1:

Hey, I have this idea. Check out this plan I drew up on this Etch a Sketch. Let’s take this to the CEO and ask for some outrageous amount of money to fund it.

*chorus of ‘great idea!’ erupts*

Day 31:

Great, we got this approved. I may have over-promised on the ROI, but that can be someone else’s problem later. Anyway, I added some more meat to the plan. I wrote it on this bar napkin. Take this and create a vague presentation that we can use to launch this to the 12 other teams that this project will impact.

Day 43:

Did you make that presentation yet? No? OK, good. On second thought, I think it’s best if we waited to provide any real information until things become critical. We’ll add a sense of urgency this way. In the meantime, use this project plan I put together. Looks pretty good, right? I dropped a plate of spaghetti on a piece of paper and had my kids trace it.

Day 55:

How did the presentation go? Yikes. Well, tell them to relax. We’ll get out an FAQs doc that will answer all their questions. Oh, that reminds me. You know that crucial part of this plan? The piece the whole thing hinges on? Let’s get that new girl to own it.

Day 62

Hey, what’s this call about? What project is that? Sounds like a mess. Oh yeah, I forgot about that thing. I can’t make it. Best of luck, though. I’m sure it will be fine.

Day 75

Hi team, I’m the new guy and I’m freaking PUMPED about this project. Sounds awesome. Let’s dig in and get it done! Who’s with me?


Day 82

OK, team. We’ve got six weeks to launch this thing. Surely by this point, we are 90% of the way there, right?

*more crickets*

Day 90

For today’s status call, I need everyone to list their risks and roadblocks.

*two hours later*

Alright, we got through one person. Let’s circle back next week and see how much has resolved itself.

Day 97

Hey, so I’ve learned the one group we’re depending on to drive this project isn’t totally on board. Turns out no one asked them how we should structure this project so it would work for their customers. But, no matter, we can still do this. It’ll be a great success despite the complete lack of confidence from our primary stakeholders. They’ll be drinking the Kool-Aid in no time! Let’s do this!

*sheer panic ensues*

Day 106

Wow! This is the best meeting we’ve had in weeks! Two out of the 517 things we need to accomplish in the next three weeks are done. Nice work, team. Keep it up!

Day 117

OK, so noticed a weird thing. I looked in the system and the budget isn’t showing up. Must be a glitch. I’m sure it will be fine. We should move forward despite this glaring concern. Also, has anyone tested this process to ensure it will work when we launch?

*IT team ‘accidently’ gets cut off from call*

Day 120

Guys, I’ve got bad news. New VP saw the art and messaging. She wants to change it. I know we just printed 8,000 T-shirts, 20,000 flyers, blasted this out on social media, and designed 42 different web banners, but we have four days to do it all over again. I know you can do it. Go team!

*muffled sobs heard over the WebEx*

Day 124

Congratulations, team! We made it and it’s actually working! I can’t f-ing believe it, honestly. Anyway, the executive team is so impressed, they’ve decided to roll this out worldwide. I told them we can hammer this out in a few weeks. All we need to do is translate 312 pieces of collateral into 27 languages and slap it up on individual landing pages. Piece of cake!

*muted weeping in the distance*

Day 126

Hey, I have this idea.

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