Monday, August 31, 2009

Leaders plan and prepare for success

Today I want to talk about planning and preparation. I was travelling again and visited an old work friend who over dinner expressed a high level of frustration as he was preparing for a big project and most of his requirements to start his task hadn't been met. He spoke with his team leader, who didn't seem to understand that my friend couldn't start his portion of the work, until the other teams completed their efforts.

Do you take the time to truly understand what your team members need? Do you understand what is involved in their preparation?

What had happen to my friend was he was to give a technical presentation on a piece of complicated software. The software engineers were having issues and finished their portion of the project at midnight the night before my friend was to present. Surprisingly he had to go in blind and some aspects didn't work. The end result the customer was not happy, they hadn't got the outcome they were looking for. My friend was upset as it looked like he didn't know his subject as he had trouble with all the customised aspects of the presentation. I wonder what the outcome would have been if the project had finished on time and my friend had the couple of days preparation he had requested. My friend confronted his team leader to express why there were so many issues, his reply, well they finished before your presentation so what was the trouble, my friend exploded when was he to be briefed on these changes, when was he to practice the demonstrations. His boss simply shrugged and said I can't tell the engineers what to do.

When you set up your plan do you allow for slippage, do you have a stop/go plan in place depending on the progress of the work leading up to each event. Often its better to cancel early and get the whole thing right rather than fly be the seat of your pants and then look less than average because you team has to cuff their part of the operation. If you talk to the professional project managers they will all tell you it is important to build in some periods of no new work to allow all the prerequisite work to be completed and documented.

As leaders it's important the we are meticulous plan and prepare for our team's work. nothing will damage our credibility faster than asking your team to do their work when they don't have all the things they need.

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