I am a fan of project managers and what they do, but here is a heresy. Projects have become a bit of a cottage industry. Practically anything new seems to get wrapped up as a project, goes through gates and takes ages. It seems to me that often the greatest risks are the delay and excessive overheads of the project itself, as opposed to the actual work. There are some things we should just do as part of our day to day operations. Still as discretionary things that look a bit like projects, but managed with a light touch, by people who may have, or aspire to, the PM competence, but whose day jobs are anything but project management. You know, the people who do the work.
I am experimenting with providing safe environments to get things like this done. That is, making judgements so as to keep a lid on it all, but otherwise identifying a few things that have value, need doing, consume resource and can be specified. These are typically not time critical and provide opportunities for people who otherwise wouldn’t get a go to take risks, learn things, and inspire others … in a safe environment. By that I mean one where we plan to succeed, but where the world doesn’t end if we don’t.
Less than a week after agreeing a couple of simple objectives and giving a few people permission to do things they don’t normally do, the conversation has spread from two to four cities of its own accord, people are meeting virtually and collaborating. Better still, real improvements in how we work and serve our customers are happening.
I suppose I could have kicked off a collaboration project instead.