Tag Archives: project-management

Blame and Excuses

“It’s like they fight all the time,” Sheldon explained. “Each manager thinks they know how to run the whole company, if I would just step out of the way.”

“What’s happening, explain the friction?” I asked.

“Once again, the project was late and when it was delivered to the client, it didn’t work. Pretty simple explanation. It’s the fix that’s complicated. When we only did one project at a time, everything seemed to work well. On time, on budget, never missed a beat. Then we got two projects, three. We now have seven projects in-house and they all have problems, missed deadlines, cost overruns and quality issues.”

“And?”

“The project manager is ripping his hair out. The response he is getting from all the other managers is a mix of blame and excuses,” Sheldon shrugged.

“What do they say?” I prompted.

“Want a list?” Sheldon chuckled.

  • The Sales Manager says he asked Engineering for timetable before he promised a delivery date.
  • The Engineering Manager says there were too many changes in the scope of work.
  • The Ops Manager says the timetable from Engineering was unrealistic.
  • The Accounting Manager says the budget didn’t allow for any profit.
  • The Marketing Manager says that if he had known the priority of the client, he would have put more people into the product rollout.

“So, who is right?” I smiled.

“That’s the problem. They are all right. Every word is true.”

Evidence, Not Hope

From the Ask Tom mailbag:

Question:
How do you un-do some internal promotions that probably shouldn’t have happened? The person is just not effective in their new Stratum III role?

Response:
Troubleshooting effectiveness in a role can be traced to one of these four factors –

  • Capability
  • Skill
  • Interest (Value for the work)
  • Reasonable Behavior

I rely on the manager’s judgment to determine which of the factors may be in play. In my Time Span workshop, I describe a team member with the following characteristics –

  • Worked for the company – 8 years
  • Always shows up early, stays late
  • Wears a snappy company uniform (belt around waist, cap on straight)
  • Knows the company Fight Song
  • Makes the best potato salad at the company picnic

And yet, is under performing in his role. Put that list against the four factors and I arrive at capability mis-matched for the role. To do a thorough inspection, I would examine each of the Key Result Areas in the role to see where the underperformance occurs. It is likely there are parts of the role that are done well, and parts where we observe underperformance. The mis-match is likely to occur on those longest Time Span task assignments.

In your question, you describe a Stratum III role. I would examine each of the KRAs and task assignments to see which is the culprit and modify that specific task assignment. The modification might be to break the longer task into a series of shorter tasks with more oversight, or to shift an analytic step to another resource.

All of this can be avoided by assigning project work to team members BEFORE they receive promotions. Successful completion, evidence is what I look for, not hopes and promises.