Déjà vu. I’m doing nothing more than helping out as my father-in-law is recovering from having been in the hospital. All the chaos and concern seemed very familiar in an eerie way … kind of like … an out of control project!
It seems that everyone in the family wants to know the “status” on grandpa just about every minute of every day. Anyone they talk to (nurse, doctor, someone with a badge, at random) who can’t give them immediate details of his pulse, blood pressure, bowel movements and how he is doing, is labeled incompetent or “nobody knows anything.”
It feels like being in the middle of a major but chaotic project! As I do my due diligence, I find things are both good and bad on both sides of the shouting (and this is typical). My family is not talking to the right people and don’t know who the right people are. The medical team is not letting them know who the right people are, or that the right people have changed, or when they can see the right people (have a status meeting or update!).
When it comes to the “status meeting” no one is in agreement with what information should be available. I listen to the medical staff ask “what do you mean by that?” to a family question that the family is sure is a critical thing anyone should be able to answer. It was interesting after one incident of “nobody knows what is going on” that my family then gets a call from what seems like the “project manager” to talk about next steps for my father-in-law. Why didn’t the medical staff explain that this would happen and who would be calling them? When this PM is bombarded by detailed questions, she pulls in the lead nurse, who nobody in the family seemed to have heard of (“lead nurse, he has a lead nurse?”). The nurse answers the detailed questions with apparent expertise and in some cases repeats “that is not happening here” when asked about something or other that had happened at the hospital or elsewhere (e.g., when he was still home). Once we got the right people talking together the frustration level was a lot lower.
I’ve always observed that management is driven by human nature, which doesn’t change much even with new technologies, techniques and tools. It looks like it doesn’t change much even as we change the venue from technology development to human repair and recovery (i.e., medical).
Clearly, for example, it would be handy to have a simple status chart that is kept up to date each day (as activities happen) that the family could look at (over the web, phone in, drop by, etc.). While, from experience, I know that any status is inherently incomplete it could provide the basics that showed where the patient was and where they needed to be (as to stats, such as blood pressure, temperature, oxygen, has the doctor come by today, physical therapy progress, etc.). I’m surprised that nothing like this is currently available. Medical facilities are packed with high technology tools — but none apparently for letting responsible family members know what is going on.
Similarly, I had a project manager recently ask me what was the best project management tool to help bring their assignment and reporting chaos under control. I looked at her and said “you realize this is just another project, don’t you?” She looked startled and then after a moment’s pause seemed to “get it.” She already knew how to go about it and didn’t need a consultant to give her the “magic answer.”
What we know as a project manager is useful in everyday activities. We shouldn’t forget our discipline as we dive into other aspects of life. We might want to ask ourselves “if this was a project, would I be doing it this way?” as a method of reality checking how we are working with other people in other environments. I think we will find that the project management discipline works well in circumstances other than just classic projects.
What examples do you have of using project management techniques outside of business projects?