Practical Project Management

Management Focus

Feb 4

2/4/2014 12:58 PM  RssIcon

We hear a lot about ‘hands off’ and ‘micro managing’ as polar opposites in the project management arena. The focus and intensity of management varies with the project but here is a scenario that might shed some light on the subject.

Consider a very busy major intersection in your vicinity, and the purpose of everyone approaching the crossroads. Each one wants to proceed through the intersection and continue their journey.

In order to organize these resources we add a very simple, unintelligent manager – a traffic light.

The light has no understanding of the individual objectives of each driver, except that each wants to get on with their trip, and each wants to be detained as little as possible.

So, the manager simply organizes the process by directing each to pause and proceed in a way that will provide the least inconvenience to all.

Now picture that same very busy intersection and the traffic lights are not functioning – the result is that all lanes back up with more and more frustrated drivers.

What is the problem ? We just allowed everyone to do whatever they wanted, however they wanted – didn’t we ?

No, we added an element of uncertainty to the process – is it my turn ? where is that person going ? How / when can I turn here ? etc., etc. with every car. That uncertainty adds up with every approaching vehicle and results in lost time, control, and frustration.

The ‘dumb’ manager works pretty well, just saying ‘go this way’ …’go that way’, ‘proceed, ‘stop’, and so on.

As managers, we need to just provide some clear instructions and direction so people can move forward with certainty of what is expected.


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