As a profession, project managers have developed all sorts of plans, methodologies, and processes to help get the job done. Not all of them are perfect: many are highly situational, others are just “okay”. But there’s one project management process that’s absolutely the worst.
Shooting from the hip.
You’re Your Own Worst Enemy
You say “not me, I don’t do that!” But really, all of us are guilty of committing this sin at some point in our careers—I’ve done it myself.
Think about it. Have you ever done a certain type of project so many times that you figured you had it down pat? Been so confident that you neglected certain planning steps or made one too many assumptions? Or maybe the project was small or simple, and not really worth all the documentation a larger job would need?
No matter the reason, the end result is you ignore your training and override your policies. You decide to play it by ear and rely on your experience and instincts to see the project through.
And that’s when things usually go wrong.
Going without a plan is like driving at night with your headlights off. Sure, you might remember the layout of the roads and the like, but you can’t remember everything. Something is going to be missed, and it’s probably going to be something important.
Also, what happens when a pedestrian crosses the street? This risk, which could otherwise have been easily avoided, is suddenly much more dangerous because it takes you by surprise. And if you don’t have a contingency plan in place, you’ll have a harder time dealing with the problem. Spur-of-the-moment reactions might solve things, but they might make things worse, too.
Resist the Temptation
Project management is exhausting. I get that. It’s very tempting to coast through well-worn project paths to save some effort. After all, you do this type of job all the time, right? And this attitude may not even be for the entire project. It can creep into the final project phase, where everyone is tired and just wants to close the book and move on.
We have to resist this temptation as much as we can. And we should stop this attitude from creeping into our teams. The best project managers aren’t those that can execute a project with their eyes closed. They’re the ones that thoroughly plan every project they do, because they know that each project should be treated like it’s the first time it’s ever been done.
Image credit, Flickr, KayVee.INC