Thursday, February 3, 2011

Watching the Process

The Process

Management, Project Management, Process Management, each a process. Can you isolate the moment you realised that?

I was in the second grade. We were out in the playground for recess. We were playing kickball.

Recess was unstructured. There was no micromanagement of children then.

The two usual classmates were captains. This was SOP. Then, one day, one of the teams had a co-captain.

While some of the other boys in my class complained, “Why do they always get to be captains?” “They always pick their friends. That’s not fair,” I observed the process.

The captains were the natural leaders. This was because they were good at the game and good at picking players. (Athletes will routinely hang out with athletes. Question: Are they picking their friends, or good athletes, or both? Answer: both.)

We root for the underdogs; but we want to run with the winners. Good at sports or bad at sports, each of us wants to be on a winning team.

However, we now had co-captains. I was less concerned with why. I simply wanted to be on a winning team. That was over 50 years ago. I still remember the day. However, we never stop learning. It was only a few weeks ago when I thought about that day that I realised something.

If you are a good athlete, and I am a good athlete, and we have three powerful players in the class; Tom, Dick, and Harry, and we toss a coin for first pick, the following are the possible results:

You have three power players: I have two power players.

I have three power players: you have two power players.

It comes down to the toss of a coin.

Plan B. I have a co-captain. It doesn’t matter who wins the toss. Either way, I have three power players on my team and you have two on your team.

Now, that was not the end of the lesson. That was the beginning.

1. We learned not only about leadership, but also about followship.

2. We learned the art of negotiation and the result of having good leaders.

3. We also learned how to get along without being micromanaged by parents.

4. There was a lesson in conflict resolution and the value of cooperation.

It went on from there.

Some of my classmates complained. They, however, had no viable alternative. They also had no appreciation for the objective assessment of what was happening.

Some had inflated views of their own skills. (If he can do it, so can I.) Yet, none ever explained why others never gravitated to them as leaders.

There was more to be learned by watching the process.

1. How did some classmates interact with others?

2. How did some interact with the teacher?

3. How did the teacher interact with some students as opposed to others?

For the last one, I can offer some insight. If the objective is to encourage a student to participate, the teacher calls on the quiet one. If the objective is to teach the class how to solve a problem, the teacher calls on the student most likely to have the correct answer.

There is much to be said for participation. There is little to be said for sitting on the sidelines. However, as Yogi Berra once said, “You can see a lot by just watching.” To which I shall add, “You can hear a lot by just listening.”

What does this have to do with project management?

Perhaps you shouldn’t be managing projects.




Copyright © 2011 Slim Fairview