We recently worked on a project that required an “interpretation” of the WBS (Work Breakdown Structure). There were several different opinions over how the project should be implemented…and that created some anxiety inside the team.
One person said “This project requires a lot of custom features and software that doesn’t currently exist. We need to act now and have this implemented ASAP. This is important enough to invest time and money to make happen.” As you might imagine, this caused great angst for the team…and we nearly panicked over the amount of work that was implied by this scope of project.
A second person said “The software required is not very extensive…it’s just like our other systems and processes. There is plenty of time to execute like we always do, and there is no need for customized solutions.” Now that was the version that I preferred to implement. It sounded less complex and involved less work.
However, which definition is the right scope for this project? Who has the better perspective between these two people? How does our team know what to do?
- Avoid the temptation to pick my preferred definition. That is a recipe for disaster. My motive should be the good of the project…not my own safety and comfort.
- Ask more questions. Find out why the perspectives are different. If possible, put them together and listen to them discuss why they differ. In this case, one person quickly deferred to the other (who knew more about the project needs).
- Trust the team. Individually we cannot see the entire project…but together we can discover the better solution. A great project manager will lean upon the collective wisdom of the team and help each member learn from the others.
Thanks for listening.