2008-02-22

Yes, It Is Hard. That's Why We Hired You.

I'm very happy to have opportunities to be coached. For certain, I wasn't complaining. I was talking with an exec about my current, large project. I started to say "it's hard in our environment..." in reference to setting and keeping a project deadline. The exec politely but decisively stopped me at "it's hard..." with a smile and a tilt of the head and said "Yes, it is hard. That's why we hired you to do it."

He then listened as I finished my thought. Managing a project where all effort from the project resources is the result of a negotiation with the resource is in fact very difficult. I have no authority to compel anyone to do anything.

And I'm not sure I should.

I've worked with project managers who expect that they can compel effort. And that sometimes seems to come with an odd sense of entitlement. Granted, a sane way to run a project is to make clear to the participants that a project manager to whom you're partially assigned will have an impact on your annual review. And that's a direction in which we're moving.

Still, I'm not sure it's not better to learn how to get participation through negotiation rather than always reverting to the stick. I'd like to have access to the stick sometimes, believe me. To what end would I use that, though? Unless a project's resources are leveled (and who except a rare few can actually say that they are?), that resource is probably (certainly) over-committed.

It's hard. Apparently that's why I was hired.

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