Like the Evangelist, the Zealot can see no wrong in the particular cause they are thumping the tub for. No matter how obvious it may be to the people surrounding them, they will continue on their unending task of imparting their amazing breadth of knowledge on the subject to all and any that will listen.
While it’s great to have people that are really motivated on your project, the Zealot will actually detract from the forward momentum of the project by insisting on ‘sticking to the method’ or ‘doing it by the book’. Often resulting in heading off down blind alleys and wasting valuable time for little or no benefit.
Now, as you will see from other areas of the A-Z, we are firm believers in pragmatism. Unfortunately for the Zealot, the pragmatist can see through all his fluff and techniques and will spot when they start heading off down the blinkered highway to fail-to-deliver-land.
The assumption of course is that you can’t just get rid of them of your own free will, likely because they’ve been imposed on you or your project. If they cannot be instilled with an element of sensibility, there is nothing for it but to either get them off your project, or get them sidelined to the extent they can do no damage.
Fear not, there are a couple of ways forward: marginalisation or vapourisation.
It’s no accident that a simple transposition turns this particular species into conslutant. Consultants are in it for the money; and the bigger the company providing the consultancy, the bigger the money.
We have a healthy disrespect of consultants. Many of the big consultancies give this job title to their most junior staff. They then send them out to companies to advise them
Be careful when your company ‘calls in the consultants’. It can mean one of a number of things:
- They are genuinely clueless as to what to do and need someone to point them in the right direction.If this is the case, why don’t they have a clue – it’s their business after all.
- You have a board member that has a vested interest (see ‘Vested-Interest’) in the proposed consultancy company.In this case, they are spending your company’s money and boosting their position on various boards.
- They have no confidence in their workforce.In this case, what does that say about you
Advice? Interview your would-be consultants as if you were going to recruit them for your own company. Many companies either don’t realise or forget that you can knock-back individuals from your consultancy firm. In this way you can avoid having a bunch of numptys running the show in your area.
If you don’t have the authority to make the decision on whether the allocated ‘consultant’ should be retained or not, don’t worry. Interview them anyway, then you can label them as competent.
“You know, we always called each other goodfellas. Like you’d say to somebody: You’re gonna like this guy, he’s allright, he’s a goodfella, he’s one of us. You understand? We were Goodfellas, wiseguys.”
Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) in “Goodfellas”directed by Martin Scorsese
It’s simple; either you are a good-guy, or you’re not.
Good-guys, or in this day-and-age, good-gals, are quick on the uptake, they can read a situation, think on their feet, undertake a variety of roles. They are valuable people to have, as you can rely on them to turn a seemingly impossible situation around.
If you are a good-guy, you’ll know you are. You’ll quickly recognise other good-guys and naturally gravitate towards them. The capability of a group of good-guys is by far greater than the sum of their individual skills.
If you’re not a good-guy you may still believe you are, but you’re kidding yourself on. And deep down, you know you’re kidding yourself on. The real good-guys will quickly suss you as a faker.
In any case, make sure you have one or more good-guys in your delivery team. Guys you can rely on to take the heat and not buckle.
If you don’t, you may still succeed, but it’ll be a hell of a lot harder for you as you have to deal with everything.
This is probably the most galling fact of all. You work in I.T. You have a right to expect that you share your working life with well-educated, well-trained, competent individuals. This is why you feel alone. This is why you get frustrated. What will free you from this hell is if you just accept that probably as many as 85% of all people working in IT aren’t very good at it.
In fact, brace yourself, Project Management is probably the most guilty discipline of all. Think about it. How many people have you met he have stumbled into Project Management solely because they weren’t actually any good at anything else and specifically because the role of Project Administrator is very often confused with Project Manager. Collection of timesheets does not a Project Manager make.
Try this test. Give one of your so-called Project Management colleagues this book and if they say things like “That’s terrible” or “Very funny, lucky it’s not actually like that” make a mental label of “Arse” for them in your head.