Harvey often asked "Is this project loaded for success?" A good question to ask frequently to yourself or any project manager.
So what do I do if the answer is no. My general approach is revise the project plan and objectives to load it for success. If you cannot do that, look in the mirror and ask yourself "Why am I doing this?"
I was asked once to help an organization to create a "Strategic Systems Plan". They had done all the right things in putting an organization together that was textbook but a couple of key people were not involved. I knew it was not loaded for success and suggest an alternative first step. We would demonstrate the IT department could produce results so that the key man, the head of operations, would get involved. The breakthrough project created a rapid result and revealed a key weakness in the organization. We corrected the weakness and we were off to the races with a dynamic and results oriented plan, as opposed to a ponderous "Strategic Systems Plan" that would give the organization constipation.
Another project I joined many years ago was really loaded for failure and I did not take the initiative to make my thoughts known. I think many people knew or thought the same thing but did not voice their concern. I think we all felt overwhelmed. It was a huge project that was heading for disaster. I eventually left the project but this project continued for several years and was eventually abandon. I am quite ashamed that i did not take a firmer stand on the design of the project. I think it took a lot of courage for the little boy to say "The king has no clothes on." I guess I did not have the courage to stand up and be counted.
Sometimes designing a project to be loaded for success requires some creativity and some risk but I have found without exception it was worth the effort.
At Project X, we always ask ourselves "Is this project loaded for success?" We work very hard to create projects where the answer is a resounding "YES."