Projects can be precarious things.
It’s a delicate balance of resources, requirements and time. If you keep it all under control, things can go swimmingly, but the slightest knock can bring it all crashing down around your ears. A bit like a game of Jenga™.
As Project Manager, it’s your job to oversee this particular game. You need to ensure everyone knows, and plays by, the rules. In order to do that, make sure you have all the ‘pieces’ you need; cash, people, kit, requirements, etc. and make sure you have a nice flat surface to ‘play’ on.
The latter may be more challenging as we don’t always have the luxury of a level playing field or stable platform even before starting a new project. That’s where you come in, to bring your skills and knowledge to the party, to level it as best you can.
You may need to get extra budget or people to perform a clean up before you start, put caveats around some of your deliverables, or even pull out your scoping sword. In any case, this is the time to do it, before the game starts.
So, in simple terms, build your project on a solid foundation and don’t let anyone pull anything out from under your nose, or add something in that tips the balance.
Have you been in a meeting and someone starts using buzzwords when they speak?
Do they use them repeatedly, even stringing them together to draw attention to their awareness?
Do they use them out of context?
If so, you may be in the presence of a Jargonaut. These guys fiegn knowledge of a subject by using jargon, often with amusing affect when in the presence of people who actually understand the context of the terms.
In days gone by, they would perhaps be “leveraging the synergies of a holistic cross-platform collaborative approach”. But they’re getting much more subtle now. So watch out for some of these things:
You’ll hear new age Jargonauts:
- “Talking to a presentation”
- “Working in the Enterprise space”
Granted, some of these are always going to creep into general conversation, so don’t jump to conclusions. But if someone does this more than once, or in quick succession, you should be raising an eyebrow. If they use them constantly, you know you really are in the presence of brilliance.
Your team are the single most import element in the success of your project. They equate to a lot of the eggs in your metaphorical project-basket. If you cannot rely on the individuals in your team to do their best for the cause, then you really need to consider whether they are suited to a career working for you.
Sometimes you can have a go at re-aligning their attitude. But, as has been proven by many psychological studies, you can change a person’s behaviour; you can rarely change the person. So 95% of the time you will find they will eventually revert to type. Bear in mind, the longer you carry the baggage, the more it is costing you, and the less return on your investment you are likely to get.
Add to this the negative effect they have on the team and project that you will have to recover afterwards, and you should be arriving at one conclusion: it’s better for all concerned to jettison the excess baggage sooner rather than later.
No-one said this job was easy, or pleasant, but the mark of a good manager is being able to do the tough things with equal professionalism and clarity. However, if there are political blockers to you doing the right thing, there are, a couple of alternative approaches; marginalisation and vapourisation.