“There is a perception that movies that pull male sell. Given that females go to the movies as much as males, the lack of change is likely due to entrenched ways of thinking and doing business that perpetuate the status quo,” study author Stacy Smith told the Los Angeles Times. Funny Girls, Bloomberg Businessweek, July 15, 2013.
What we too often do is based upon what we’ve done in the past even if what we’ve done in the past, for example, has us regularly delivering our projects months late.
This is not to say that because we are essentially doing the same things we’ve done before that it is not hard or not downright exhausting to do. People get promoted all the time (or get the contract) doing the same things and killing themselves and their teams in heroic ways while just getting the same, unsatisfying, results.
For more see Do 70% Of Your Projects Fail?
Habit is very powerful and often very difficult to detect. I watched in amazement as senior managers and their minions decided, at the last minute, to delay the launch of a product. These were the same managers who when anyone suggested that something would slip during the project, they were all over that team warning them that slipping was not acceptable.
What was different that drove the management team to voluntarily slip a project when they absolutely forbid it in the past? Was it because of poor quality? Nope. Was it because the customer had some concerns? Nope.
Instead, the problem appeared to be that we had not slipped the project even once during the entire 18 month effort. Such a happening was unheard of in an organization that regularly delivered their products three to four months late without any ever being on time. It was almost as if unconsciously, out of repeated past habits, a project was not considered complete until it had slipped at least once.
The humours part was that while this was the direction given, the account team delivered the product to the customer anyway. The customer was delighted.
For more on breaking habits, see Initiative or Insubordination?
Habit is a very powerful project management tool for both good and not so good. We need to look closely at our own organization and see if we are doing things because they are the right things to do or if we are doing things because that is what we’ve done in the past. Don’t be fooled by people working very long hours or very hard or even working with a high level of visibility as an indicator that it is something we really need to do. Habit is that powerful and works against the ability to constantly improve an organization.
What things are you doing on your project that are more out of habit than necessity?