The key role of a Project Manager (PM) is driving things to conclusion. The Powerhouse PM must go far beyond simply asking for and managing to dates. It involves driving details of EVERY “critical path” conversation, and not leaving anything up to chance.
Case study example – I was recently on a con-call with a project team in which we were discussing a critical path issue that was STILL not resolved. What remained was one of the team members on the call (Team Member A) needed to answer a few questions for Team Member B (who was not on the call), so that he (Team Member B) could complete his work “today” in order to remain on plan.
Team Member A indicated that he would get with Team Member B by the end of the day to answer his questions.
Some may think “ok, that issue is behind us: next item.” Wrong!
First, we must consider the fact that Team Member A is in California and Team Member B is in Massachusetts. So, this end of day commitment would be too late for Team Member B to be able to complete their work “today.” So, I asked “is there any reason why you can’t book time on this person’s calendar, right now, such that you could meet with him immediately following our call?” He was more than happy to oblige. I just needed to ask…
To some, this may seem like a “nit.” However, the Powerhouse PM has a different mind set which includes “shepherding” things to conclusion, ensuring “silly little delays” don’t occur which could impact the project. That is, we must DRIVE these items and not leave it up to chance. Otherwise, the (non-surprising) outcome would have been finding out on Monday that the 2 people didn’t sync up and the issue remained unresolved. Hence, a delay. I hate that 🙂
In closing, Powerhouse PM’s must be a “driver with an edge.” They intently listen for little details that could signal a risk of delay or miscommunication. And, they shepherd things along to conclusion! If this doesn’t occur, you will merely be a project “reporter” (in our case study example) letting the team know on Monday that there is a delay on completing a critical path item.
A Powerhouse PM doesn’t just report the news, they MAKE the news!!!