With Russian President Vladimir Putin focused on foreign policy, rival factions in his inner circle are battling for influence over the economy … [T]he infighting is slowing decision-making as the country slips into recession … “The elite are fighting for a shrinking pool of assets.” Conscious Uncoupling In The Kremlin, Bloomberg Businessweek, Oct 13, 2014.
I was frustrated because the VPs didn’t seem to be doing anything useful to fix things. Instead they appeared to be just fighting amongst themselves. Why don’t they just focus on getting their departments to function well and leave off taking potshots at each other? How does that help?
Well, it seems that what was going on with the VPs was similar to what Businessweek reported in the Russian government. The business was not doing well and the amount of resources, revenue, was shrinking. Someone was going to have to get less and so everyone was hinting about why the other guy was the source of the problems with the company.
The bottom line was the company was simply not doing well. The solution was, apparently, not to find things to turn it around. Instead the generally chosen action was to shoot the other guy down to decrease their resources so we can get more. I recall thinking “it’s like a bunch of hogs who are pushing each other out of the way to see who gets to eat at the food trough last before it is all gone.” No one was trying to figure out how to replenish the trough. They just wanted to get whatever was left, before the other guy.
When we see this kind of activity sometimes we just want to bail and go find another company and I wouldn’t blame anyone. However, I’ve found that when senior managers are distracted we often find opportunities to help improve our organization’s performance. When there is little or no substantial guidance, a good project manager (or consultant) can often influence the teams to move in a direction that helps them improve.
For more on how see Knowing More Than Your Teams Know About Themselves
A crisis is often the opportunity a project manager needs. It might not look much like an opportunity and others will think we are nuts, but focusing on changing things can often happen when it seems like the least likely chance. Sometime others just need something better to focus on then the drama of the business appearing to be coming apart at the seams. We can “consciously uncouple” our work from the craziness of management.
For related see Don’t Kill The Golden Goose of Project Management — The Crisis
If we are lucky, the problems will eventually be resolved, new management may be installed and they can then get back to focusing on doing the job. Hopefully our improvements don’t get squashed in the rush to get things back on track and we’ve taken advantage of the chaos to make things just a little bit better.
A bit more on this see Don’t Squash Our Pockets Of Excellence
How are you dealing with whatever management chaos is going on around your project?