GUEST POST from Mike Shipulski
Companies have control over one thing: how to allocate their resources. Companies allocate resources by deciding which projects to start, accelerate, and stop; whom to allocate to the projects; how to go about the projects; and whom to hire, invest in, and fire. That’s it.
Taking a broad view of project selection to include starting, accelerating, and stopping projects, as a leader, what is your role in project selection, or, at a grander scale, initiative selection? When was the last time you initiated a disruptive yet heretical new project from scratch? When was the last time you advocated for incremental funding to accelerate a floundering yet revolutionary project? When was the last time you stopped a tired project that should have been put to rest last year? And because the projects are the only thing that generates revenue for your company, how do you feel about all that?
Without your active advocacy and direct involvement, it’s likely the disruptive project won’t see the light of day. Without you to listen to the complaints of heresy and actively disregard them, the organization will block the much-needed disruption. Without your brazen zeal, it’s likely the insufficiently-funded project won’t revolutionize anything. Without you to put your reputation on the line and decree that it’s time for a revolution, the organization will starve the project and the revolution will wither. Without your critical eye and thought-provoking questions, it’s likely the tired project will limp along for another year and suck up the much-needed resources to fund the disruptions, revolutions, and heresy.
Now, I ask you again. How do you feel about your (in)active (un)involvement with starting projects that should be started, accelerating projects that should be accelerated, and stopping projects that should be stopped?
And with regard to project staffing, when was the last time you stepped in and replaced a project manager who was over their head? Or, when was the last time you set up a recurring meeting with a project manager whose project was in trouble? Or, more significantly, when was the last time you cleared your schedule and ran toward the smoke of an important project on fire? Without your involvement, the over-their-head project manager will drown. Without your investment in a weekly meeting, the troubled project will spiral into the ground. Without your active involvement in the smoldering project, it will flame out.
As a leader, do you have your fingers on the pulse of the most important projects? Do you have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to know which projects need help? And do you have the chops to step in and do what must be done? And how do you feel about all that?
As a leader, do you know enough about the work to provide guidance on a major course change? Do you know enough to advise the project team on a novel approach? Do you have the gumption to push back on the project team when they don’t want to listen to you? As a leader, how do you feel about that?
As a leader, you probably have direct involvement in important hiring and firing decisions. And that’s good. But, as a leader, how much of your time do you spend developing young talent? How many hours per week do you talk to them about the details of their projects and deliverables? How many hours per week do you devote to refactoring troubled projects with the young project managers? And how do you feel about that?
If you want to grow revenue, shape the projects so they generate more revenue. If you want to grow new businesses, advocate for projects that create new businesses. If you need a revolution, start revolutionary projects and protect them. And if you want to accelerate the flywheel, help your best project managers elevate their game.
Image credit: Pixabay
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