Slow and Steady Wins the Project Management Race!
LOS GATOS, CA Feb 16th, 2016 - Hurry, hurry, hurry. Faster, faster. We live in a “done now”, “real time” world of instant gratification. People want immediate feedback, instant updates and decisions made yesterday.
This is equally true for certain aspects of the projects we manage and the teams and customers we manage and interact with. However, jumping on the first issue that comes along and responding in emergency mode - while it maybe our first knee-jerk reaction and what the customer or even our senior management is yelling at us to do - it may not be in the project's or the customer's best interest. Why? Because after thinking a process through, there is nearly always a better way than your first reactive plan. Elements of that first reaction may be great, but it is likely that the response needs some further analysis and formation to get it as effective and productive as possible. To make it a real solution rather a quick fix or bandaid.
I know you want to act fast – react fast. We do that all the time with our clients. Whether it's a consulting client, a project customer or a customer with a need of complaint or suggesting in whatever industry we might be in. Fast reaction makes it look like you're on it. But there is a lot to be said for “counting to ten” first and give the issue, communication, complaint or process time to sink in. As I said, you'll nearly always have a better response in hand if you take some time to react. For me, it's a three step process...
Review the landscape and get the details.
First, gather the details. This is likely the first you've heard about the situation or been alerted about it. You need time and details to get up to speed and to begin to formulate a response. What is the cause or supposed cause? Who is your best source of info or who is the witness? How reliable is the data? How quickly does a response or action need to happen? By reviewing the landscape and getting all the details possible, you can put yourself in a better position to begin planning a response.
Ideas, ideas, ideas.
Next, take this info and meet with your project team members. They are the skilled resources that you must rely on here. Use them. Don't try to go this alone. Brainstorm with them concerning the details you – and possibly you and the team members – have gathered up to this point and then work to formulate anywhere from one to three viable responses to the issue or issues at hand.
Present the response.
Finally, present the response. I watch Criminal Minds a lot. A lot as in every episode. And the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) gathers as much info about the “unsub” (Unknown SUBject), and then they brainstorm as a group before presenting a profile to the media, local law enforcement and the public. That's the process you've followed up to this point and now you're taking your “profile” or proposed best responses to your media and law enforcement...in this case it's your customer or whoever needs the action or response...in order to fix whatever is ailing the project or causing the issues or concerns.
I'd like to say that I always practice this but I don't. I'm as guilty or more so of reacting too quickly to situations sometimes – even to the point of responding to a concerning email before I've finished reading it fully. Regret. One word you really don't want to have to conceptualize. That's what I'm after here – planning a real response that is productive, thoughtful, calming, confident and workable. And the right one.