The Project Notebook

Project Management and Joint Accountability

I’m still working my way through the Oz Principle “trilogy”. There is so much of importance here for improving ourselves and our projects. I’m looking for ways that Oz and project management “correlate” or “complement” each other.

One immediate area that jumped off the page is joint accountability. Its the idea that in any team setting, when someone drops the ball, another is there to help put it in the goal. Many of the best practices we follow in project planning help contribute to this:

Pre-implementation announcements or meetings based on the project charter.
Once the charter is in developed or completed, its typical to get senior management to stand up, state some of the goals, and start the process of building the shared understanding of the work. Getting early and often messages out to the team members and other stake holders, almost like a public relations campaign, builds understanding. Where there is solid shared understanding, joint accountability can take place.

Implementation Meeting
This is the first time the identified project team is brought together as a whole to hear the objectives again and begin forming the initial project phases and requirements. Once again, clear and consistent communication about the goals and objectives brings everyone together.

Work Breakdown Structure
This is an area that many software, IT, or technology projects “skimp” with the belief it is too time consuming. This is an activity which builds capacity. Everyone works together to identify the work and understand how the work is building to meet the goals and objectives of the charter.

Other Planning Activities
Whether it be to develop a communications plan or a human resources plan, this is more team and capacity building activity. As common understanding of the project work emerges, the team is positioned for joint accountability.

Project Execution
Like the building crescendo of a symphony, project managers that spend time on the previous steps will have a bold and capable team. Everyone knows what needs to be done and is occupied by doing it. Rather than herding cats, the project manager is mentoring the team and helping with problem solving. Team members know what needs to be done, are doing it, and helping out others who are not helping the ball to the net. This builds focus too — other peripheral tasks are now clearly second to meeting the promised deliverable.

Now I’m sure many will scoff at the time these activities take. My assertion, is that in the long run, these steps are very worth while. Taking some time on each will provide superior results. If you have an opportunity go back and look at my early articles “PLAN” is Not a Four Letter Word (Parts I and II). Having the right steps in place can and will provide superior results in the long run.

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© 2010-2012 Ray W. Frohnhoefer, MBA, PMP, CCP