The Mechanics of Tasking 5/5 — Honesty = Accuracy = better Delegation (Project Management)

September 4, 2007 at 9:18 am Leave a comment

In an earlier posting I touched on this topic but it’s worthwhile returning to it in some detail, because I believe it’s one of the primary causes of Delegation failure… (but maybe I’m just lying to you. How would you know?)

Consider this: If our ability to estimate how long a particular delegated task should take, with the resources on hand, was as good as it could be; and if we had all the project management tools we could afford and were perfectly competent in their usage; but… if the data relating to our progress towards completion was inaccurate – then we’re driving blind. In spite of our accurate estimation skills, and the best tools on the market, without accurate data – we’re going to fail.

Our ability to manage a project is directly proportional to the accuracy of the data we have at our disposal.

That’s another one of those incredibly obvious statements. If you’re driving to New York City, and you don’t really know where you are, then any estimate of when you’ll arrive, is suspect. This is true, even if you’re using an atomic clock as your personal timepiece, and even when you’re driving a Lamborghini. Without knowing where we are, we have no way of knowing if we should speed up, or slow down.

So? How accurate is our project data? If your project is ‘digging a hole’, then your data is as precise as you want it to be — go look at the hole. On small projects, or on projects where progress towards the goal is easily measured — accuracy isn’t difficult to achieve.

But the whole reason for implementing the body of knowledge known as ‘project management’ is so that we can centrally manage tasks which are significantly bigger than one person can grasp with a single glance. We must rely on the input from dozens, if not hundreds of individuals.

And that’s where the brown stuff hits the circulating metal blades – people aren’t too reliable when it comes to reporting on personal ‘failure’ – especially when we share the honest belief we can ‘catch up to where we should have been today — tomorrow, next week or next month’. And (a not so minor detail) when there are negative consequences to negative news.

It all boils down to the accuracy of the weekly/monthly status report. That’s the report that drives the fancy consolidation, the one we rely on to manage the project.

‘Manage’? = Make adjustments to ensure the delivery date is met.

How honest are these status reports? The answer is directly related to how well management responds to so called ‘bad news’. If heads roll, if blood is spilled, if people are fired – then here’s an iron clad guarantee – your status reports are inaccurate.

On the other hand, if ‘bad news’ is met with positive responses, coaching, extra resources, re-allocation of resources, and generally a calm rational response, then your status reports more accurately represent project reality.

(Yes – Guilty as Charged. “Projects” are nothing more than larger “Delegated” tasks – I see little difference between the two.)

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Entry filed under: Delagating, Management, Managing, Problem Solving, Project Management.

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