Last week, in a weekly meeting, my team discussed how we could improve projects with clients to avoid what we call “zombie” projects where the client’s behavior kills project momentum.

We looked at a specific project that is in motion with a client who has frequently disengaged in the past. My team listed off all the trouble behavior that they’re sure that the client will do that will result in the project being difficult to work on and hamper momentum in the coming weeks:

– Fail to deliver assets
– Continually change the scope
– Stop communicating
– And etc.

They held up their collective Zoom hands in frustration, as if to say, “We’re powerless in this situation.”

It’s normal to be frustrated by tough problems in your business. But part of your role in managing the business is to concentrate on the problems that matter and to keep attention and resources on them rather than accept them. By focusing and iterating, we can slice through obstacles like a drill piercing concrete.

In this circumstance, I’m confident that my team’s predictions about what the client will do are accurate. But if they’re accurate, then we have the information we need to improve. If we know what’s going to happen, we have the opportunity to be ready with another approach to test in the coming iteration.

It’s not only an opportunity to improve our experience today, but an opportunity to make lasting positive change for the team and for our future clients. We just have to stay engaged with the problems. Focus and iterate.