MBWA is an excellent way to keep tabs on how things are going with your projects. In my role on the team, I am often in a position to observe people who are about to (or are in process of) dropping the ball. In other words, a critical hand-off is about to be missed.
What should I do? It depends.
- First, I should ask myself if this is a real or perceived problem. Perhaps someone else negotiated a change to the original plan. Perhaps the person downstream in the project has already accepted a delay in taking delivery to that part of the project. Many project managers inappropriately meddle in the details and actually make things worse.
- If it is a real dropped ball, how vital is it to the overall project? Contrary to what you think, not all tasks are indispensable. There are items that can be dropped and the project still continues ahead unaffected. I ask myself what will happen if I do nothing?
- If it is vital to the project, who do I tell? I know the emotions that stir within me when someone goes over my head (telling my supervisor when I drop the ball). Therefore, I avoid doing that to others. If I know who is responsible, I go talk directly to them.
This morning, I observed a large number of items that appeared to be dropped balls…but when I was honest with myself, they were all unimportant. None of them put the project at risk. Plus, the department who owned responsibility has a strong reputation of always delivering when promised.
So, why would I step in and create more chaos? I choose to lead with trust.
Thanks for listening.