“The other half of real time I always assert is you have to be in the circuit. The metaphor is that if I’m watching cars drive around a racetrack at 150 miles an hour, I can take a picture of one that was about to spin out …. The problem is I’m sitting up in the stands, I’m not down in the driver’s seat where I can do something about it. Unless you’re in the circuit, even actionable information isn’t real time enough.” The added dimension to SOA, David Rubinstein, Software Development Times, June 2012.
The problem is not that I’m not in the driver’s seat but that the driver is there and trying to do her job. The notion that I need to replace or look over the shoulder of that driver and tell her how to drive is, in my experience, a typical thing we do wrong as project managers.
Also see: Why we don’t always need to be the expert.
I talk a lot about immersing ourselves in the project data and action so that we truly understand what is going on, what the data means, and when to take an action. This however doesn’t mean our goal is to have all the information at our fingertips and then be able to tweak everything going on like a puppeteer.
Instead, the insights we gain from immersion are so we can plan, organize, train and equip our team so that they can react and stay on top of the issues. If I find I can’t fix the problems because I can’t get the information fast enough to act on them, then I suspect there is a more fundamental problem that needs to be solved first.
See for example another approach: The Self Managing Project Team.
Often, we are not trying to fix the problems so they don’t happen again. Instead, we seem to be trying to set it up so we can quickly fix the same old problems as they happen again. This is a bit backwards. The project manager’s job includes responding to and remedying problems, but the art of good project management is that the project manager rarely has to do just that.
Are you organizing your project so your team can respond appropriately or are you organizing it so you can make all the decisions?