Johanna Rothman shares some thoughts today on the rhythm of projects. Riffing off the flow of the Superbowl game — and the roles offense and defense can play in projects — she offers this cautionary advice:
If you attempt to work to someone else’s rhythm, your project can’t succeed. … The biggest obstacle is to not be trapped into working someone else’s project. You’re working someone else’s project when they cut staff, change the delivery date, change the focus of the project, or some other major change, and then expect you to react — and react well.
Her solution? Make a project’s rhythm visible and explicit. Once team members can identify the rhythm of the processes they’re following — and what impediments or bottlenecks might exist — the better they can succeed. Easier said than done? I’m working on several projects now in which I’ve done all I can do — for now. The ball is in someone else’s hands, and their next steps will determine mine — and their timing. Yesterday, in the case of one project — and before reading Rothman’s blog entry — I emailed one colleague a status report indicating where we were, what I had done, and what they needed to do before I could do more.
It’s a small step, but it might be a step in the right direction.