“Your turn,” I said. “Step me through these four levels of work and tell me where you think Jason is struggling.”
Elisa started slowly.
- Direct action – Jason began as a project manager. We started him on simple projects, things (variables) came at him slowly enough where he had the time to immediately respond, and in that, he was very effective.”
- Diagnostic Accumulation – Jason did so well on a single project, that we gave him two simultaneous projects. The just reward for hard work is more hard work. With two projects, he did the second project the way he did the first project. He was able to effectively put things together, recognize similarities, connect the dots.
- Serial Thinking – is where Jason begins to struggle. We asked him to work over the shoulder of junior project managers, up to twenty simultaneous projects. We thought the project management software would handle all the detail, but the sheer volume of decisions and problem solving required Jason to think ahead, anticipate. He had to play “What if?” He had to look at twenty projects and see all the things that were the same, simultaneously understanding the nuanced differences between each project. He had to put a system together and that’s where he struggled.
- Interactive Systems Thinking – is way beyond Jason. Project management sits inside our organization next to estimating, procurement, logistics, workforce and finance. Most of that is outside of Jason’s scope.
“And, so, where would you peg Jason’s level of capability?” I asked.
“Now, it’s very easy,” Elisa nodded her head. “Jason is on the upper end of Diagnostic Accumulation, but struggles with Serial Thinking.”
“Understanding this framework, can you now, as Jason’s manager, more accurately determine what project assignments, how many, how complex that Jason can effectively handle?”