“That’s all before the financial crisis itself. Since then we’ve had more interventions, stimulus packages, breaks for the first-time home buyers, cash for clunkers, and a two-month payroll tax cut extension. What happens in Washington is people have to do something. Before, we didn’t have these stimulus packages. We had a Federal Reserve that followed a more predictable policy. I think that’s the kind of thing we should be striving for.” Bloomberg Businessweek, Jan 30 – Feb 5, 2012, Stanford economics professor John R. Taylor.
While I don’t have a solution for our economic woes, I do observe that what appears to be happening with “fixing” the problem is similar to what we see in business and management. Management, being in charge and responsible for results, has to do something when things are not going right. Yes?
As Managers We Feel We Have To Do Something
What if management is out of touch with what is going on? What if their metrics or analytics or dashboard doesn’t reflect the actual status of the organization? Well, then we get essentially “random” management changes to an already out of control system and it, quite logically, has as much a chance to spin further out of control as it does to bring it back into control.
In the article Meeting Madness I mention how my boss, trying to reduce defects in a project, insisted I call daily meetings of all the development teams to “drive down” the size of the defect list. Since I regularly tracked and trended the defects, it was quickly apparent that the daily meetings we were having had no impact on the size of the list or the speed at which we were resolving the issues. Yet calling such daily meetings was a tactic the organization had used for many years on many projects. It was always a huge bullet on a status slide showing how we were proactively going after those defects! All it truly seemed to do was use up significant management time and in fact had resulted in new project management positions whose only job was to respond to requests on the status of defects. With or without the daily meetings, the teams did their jobs and drove down the defects at a steady rate until we had a completed project.
Doing Nothing Is Hard But Often The Right Thing To Do
Sometimes we as project manager try to do things because we believe it is our job to do it. This often means doing what seems obvious — which may not be the right thing to do. Sometimes the best thing to do is to just let our teams do the jobs they know how to do. If we have planned the project well then they will have the time and resources to complete the project on time with good quality.
Are you trying to fix problems that your team is fully capable of resolving without your help?