Our team spends quite a bit of time around plans, schedules and status. This is mainly a big company problem, but every organization I have worked in needs more rigor around their work. The typical lifecycle of project management is as follows:
BIG BANG –> BEATINGS –> WHIMPERING DEATH
Let me explain. Every project starts with a big kick off, and group meeting, and if you’re really on top of it, the holy grail of project management, the all powerful template. We will accept either excel or msft project for the template, but we all know that if you’re serious it has to be project.
After the initial group hug, everyone breaks off, meets with their own teams, and creates shiny versions of their own plans. After some fancy copy and paste tricks – voila, the big boss can see a complete view of what their team is working on. Nirvana has arrived to the business world, but more importantly, we can now show the bosses boss that we actually are doing something.
But all is not well, because life moves on. Business continues. Things change. But sadly, the plan does not. As weeks pass and the plan doesn’t change, it becomes out of date. This begins the beatings from mangagement. The good news is that you are now well on your way to the whimpering death of the entire effort. After a while, people get tired of chasing people down and pretty soon this entire effort will be a distant memory. The real nirvana has arrived – freedom from project plans.
Don’t get me wrong, I really love the idea of these plans. I am also highly passionate about people being more productive. The goal of these efforts is sound. The problem is taking a manufacturing mindset to knowledge work. We do need visibility, but is there a better way?
I believe the solution lies in the principles of Web 2.0: decentralization, collaboration, creativity, and letting people own their destiny – while management let’s go of false expectations.
More to come on this topic, but I’d love to hear your experiences with these types of projects.