I often write about the soft skills associated with Leadership. This post is going to be a little more tactical. So, if you only remember one thing about this post I want you to remember:
“Stop doing dumb things.”
Dumb things in my days as a Project Manager
Have you ever created a project schedule for a creative process? I spent nearly 15 years trying to perfect this skill.
I don’t want to brag, but over the years of learning to work with the data and tools I was a master at building detailed schedules (seriously, I am not bragging about this). My schedules would contain hundreds of detailed tasks.
I would gather the input needed, structure the schedule, then carefully balanced everyone’s time. My intention was to ensure we fully utilized everyone’s time.
Lots of people claimed you couldn’t do what I was doing with the tools. However, by continually learning how the tools worked I was able to overcome many of the limitations people were complaining about.
Despite learning to use the tools so masterfully, I was ignoring an important fact that was right in front of me the whole time. The schedule’s accuracy is not proportional to my skills. In fact, in a creative process, the level of accuracy is always low.
I think I knew this reality and yet I kept trying to improve my skills. At the time I thought creating accurate schedules was expected of me. Certainly management seemed to take great comfort when I delivered such a robust schedule.
Why did the schedule need such massive updates every week, when it’s such an important and reliable activity. It must have been my skill, so perhaps an advanced scheduling course would help (I even went to the PMI College of Scheduling Conference one year).
Despite this inner knowing, I put the effort in anyway. I never questioned the validity of what I was doing.
The evolution of dumb things
Most companies don’t start with people doing too many dumb things. More accurately, they don’t start out hanging on to the dumb things. When startups hang on to the dumb things, they tend to limit their ability to succeed. Not good.