by Phillip Smith
In my previous article I wrote about IT projects experiencing trouble, and separated the symptoms from the root causes. Doctors sometimes treat symptoms, and sometime they treat root causes. Other times they treat both or do nothing at all. In this case, the project is the ailing patient, and the specific medicines that a project manager chooses to administer—and when—is largely a matter of style.
Some project managers are comfortable allowing a certain amount of churn to take place before they step in, while others work in a more hands-on mode. If the project team is seasoned and is using a mature development process, the PM can afford to allow that team space and time to work through problems without having to personally drive a resolution for each problem. There is a balance between empowering the team and being so distant that you appear to be “checked out”. Find that balance (it will vary by project and by team) and use it to your advantage. Teams that work independently within a process set tend to accomplish a lot – and they tend to have great morale when they are productive and know they have a PM who will drive resolution for issues when they need that kind of help.
While I’m willing to admit that the PM has a right to bring a certain amount of style to their approach, I’m also willing to make a strong argument that various situations call for certain “medicines”. In the last article I listed classic symptoms of a project being in trouble. One of these was “high defect rate.” We can use that as an example of a situation that calls for specific action. Continue reading