February 14, 2011, 1:58 PM — by Ty Kiisel, @task - On the way home from work the other day, I stopped by the eye doc to get my eyes checked and update my prescription. After a few minutes of "Is this better?" and other miscellaneous tests to check my eye health, I wound up with a new prescription and some new lenses for my glasses. Driving into work this morning, I couldn't help but notice that I could see things a little more clearly and the glare of oncoming headlights had diminished a bit. I've worn glasses since I was fourteen years old and have come to appreciate that "visibility" is a good thing.
It doesn't really matter what kind of projects you are involved in, visibility is critical for making informed decisions. What's more, achieving real project visibility isn't something that just happens because we wish it to be so. Sometimes (not unlike an eye exam) it takes a little experimentation -- "Is this better?"
That being said, I think achieving real project visibility will require us to think outside the box. What's more, the linchpin to achieving real insight into what's happening in projects isn't the software tool used, the work management methodology employed or even the project manager -- it's all about individual team members. Once we are able to make it easy and valuable to team members to participate in the project management process, project and business leaders will enjoy an uninterrupted stream of accurate and timely project data.
That's right, I actually suggested that participating in the process needs to show some kind of value to individual team members.
Let's face it, we've been begging, cajoling, ordering and expecting team members to contribute accurate project data since the first team project. Unfortunately, team members have demonstrated that they perceive it as a waste of time or even an unnecessary burden added to their workday, making the methods we've used for the last 40 or 50 years ineffective. Many project groups actually have individuals whose only responsibility is to personally communicate with every member of the project team and collect status data. I don't think that could be considered real "visibility" in any project leader's book.
Engage the team, give them a good reason to contribute (and a big stick is NOT a good reason). Experiment for yourself and see if your project teams will respond to a little more autonomy. See for yourself if allowing team members to consider and commit gives you better results and more accurate information than command-and-control. You might be surprised.
Let us know what happens. You might enjoy your new pair of glasses.