And, how is that we staff projects?
The nicest way to say it that we collect the crumbs of available time, ball them up, and make assignments. One thing we do well is identify the project manager and a handful of task leads who have technical expertise in the subject matter. What we don’t do well is take other competing responsibilities off their “to do” lists. We then fill in with staff who meet one important criteria-- available.
Once the team is assembled, the first order of business is to build a timeline to deliver the final product precisely on an arbitrary due date set by someone else. Then comes a scramble to finish some of the other planning documents.
These project planning activities are almost always overtaken by technical work that is somehow due all of a sudden. The status of the first looming milestone has to be presented to leadership so we turn our attention to preparing for that meeting. We wouldn’t want to look bad in front of the bosses right out of the gate, right? (As a side note, have you ever worked on a project where you spent so much time preparing for and participating in status meetings that you had limited time in between to make any actual progress? I have.)
And so with the project kick-off, the relentless cycle of meetings begins. This is often the one constant throughout the project.
Another constant throughout the project is systematic complaining about the budget. But, in my experience, the budget was never really the problem. Too often we go in complaining about limited resources as a subconscious (or deliberate) way of hedging our bets. We suspect the project is going to fail (as so many do) and we need to be on record early as to why. Blaming the budget tends to be safe excause because it's not really personal.
And while we’re at it, I've found that the schedule isn't typically a real problem either.
Contrary to our common complaints, a tight budget and a deadline are on our side. Limitations excite and inspire people to do amazing things.
So, what is the problem? More on that and the solution in my next post…