The Shape Of Your Project Story

You may be familiar with Gartner’s hype cycle.

Jeremykemp at English Wikipedia / CC BY-SA (

The same cycle is felt throughout most projects. People start with optimism about the success that they will achieve. After doing some work, stakeholders and project contributors become discouraged. If the morale isn’t managed, then the team may even give up on the project at that time. (Seth Godin calls this The Dip.)

But if you don’t abandon your project in the valley, you’ll soon find that the energy you put into the project will lead you back to success. You’ll climb out of the trough and be better off than you were before.

Kurt Vonnegut describes the same shape as the hype cycle and your projects as the shape of a “man in the hole” story. People start somewhere, go through trials, hit a low point, and climb to somewhere better than before. The next time you are feeling despondent about your project, or are setting out optimistically on a new journey, think about where you are in the shape of your project story. By thinking through what will come in the future, you’ll be better prepared for the challenges and joys that you encounter.

Your project is a story that you are writing as you complete the work. Work so that the story you read in the future is a story that you be excited to revisit and retell.