The Bump in the Night (2 of 5)

Who is Solving the Problems and Making the Decisions?

The question on the table is, will we have the right person(s) solving the problem and/or making the decision, when needed?

The volume of problems/decisions seen by a project is probably somewhat pyramid in shape, with the bulk lying with individual SMEs and, hopefully, precious few with the organization’s senior management team.  From another perspective, an inverse relationship exists between the problem volume and the number of people and/or organizational levels involved. Involvement appropriate for the situation makes for an effective use of resources within the organization.

So, who is the traffic cop?  You are; the project manager (leader).  How do you know what is right? There are two key issues that need to be considered:

  • The composition of participants – Who needs to be involved because it either affects their area of responsibility and/or makes use of their expertise?
  • The environmental context of the situation – What are the implications of the situations final resolution, relative to the project outcome, the well-being of the organization, etc.?

My assumption in the previous post was you had a strong, cohesive execution team already in place, which implies the team uses the project meetings to openly discuss challenges (and waste little time on success status) and readily shares information.  As the leader, your role is understand how each challenge/situation is being handled from a process perspective; not necessarily technical content.  In terms of the process, it need to be a hub-to-spoke communications, with you as the hub.  Unlike the solution/decision communications model, which should be point-to-point among the active participants. This is not to imply you can’t be a participant in the technical discussions, it just means in order to lead your focus has to be first and foremost the process.

It boils down to active listening.  Is this person talking to me about project process or technical content? Even if they are talking about the technical content, is there some implied process issues?  Remember, getting the project technically correct don’t necessarily bring it on time, under budget and aligned with the organization’s strategy.

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