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Shooting the Elephant – With Lasers! April 28, 2010

Posted by Jason in Insider's View Relapses.
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Your efforts to improve profitability are lagging. You might be staying afloat, making payroll, and beginning to reinstate a few benefits, but you’re not really doing your best work. For the most part, that might be okay, since that’s probably also (more…)

Coordination April 19, 2010

Posted by Jason in Daily PM.
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“We’re having a coordination meeting to align the stakeholders and make actionable decisions about deliverables.”  Ugh.

What exactly is a “coordination meeting”?

Are the participants expected to do anything different with the information (assuming it is even valuable) than what they would normally do in the course of their work?  Or is it merely a tool to shift accountability from the manager, who can then say, “You should have asked that in the meeting”.

Any meeting needs accomplish some purpose.  It may very well be that information transfer is a key element, but more likely it is not.  For example, let’s say that management needs to coordinate the activities of its IT and marketing staff for a particular effort.  Is this to say that these groups are not already coordinated?  If not, perhaps the job descriptions need a bit of tweaking.  If so, such meetings should be minimal at best, and should only be needed for special projects that probably include other stakeholders anyway (all the more reason to have a SHORT meeting for this purpose).

More than likely however, such meetings are held on a weekly basis and are done out of habit more than anything else.  I won’t repeat them here, but look up the “5 P’s” of meetings to ensure yours are on track and not just time dumps for your staff.

They Don’t Understand My Job April 16, 2010

Posted by Jason in Daily PM.
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How many times have you heard (or thought) that?  How many times does a manager or supervisor have expectations or assignments that aren’t aligned with how the work actually gets done?

It may be unrealistic timelines or simply being unaware of the “off org-chart” communication, but whatever the situation, it needs to be addressed.  Why?  The status quo is simply not sustainable.  It puts a project or process at high risk of failure when managers don’t make the connection between a desired outcome and the day-to-day activities of the staff.  And it goes both ways; staff needs to understand how they directly and indirectly affect the organization’s profitability, reputation, and client relationships.

There is quite a movement afoot to address this concern by ensuring “transparency”.  That’s fine, but what are the recipients of that information doing with it?  If it’s knowledge for the sake of knowledge, it’s not providing any real value.  If staff clamors to see a closely-held firm’s books, they better be prepared to make some changes in their behaviors to improve them.

Management may not know what magic you perform to get the work done, but by closely tying the staff’s daily activities to the bottom line, there is greater understanding up and down the line of how those actions (tangible) can affect the relatively vague concept of profitability.