Guiding Quote

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” Einstein

Monday, April 1, 2013

Project managers and the committee.

One of the weaknesses of modern management practice is the neglect of the power of the committee. One of the modern meme's is that committees are bad, weak, staffed by compromisers etc. whereas what we need is the standout iconoclast, who goes against the stream. An Horatio on the bridge type personality, taking on all foes.

Of course this cult of the individual has its downside. One obstinate individual taking advantage of other people good nature can stop everything in its tracks. Mix in the modern tendency to seek consensus rather than reach decisions and in the project world this can lead to paralysis.

How do you manage this situation?

Well the much maligned institution of the committee, in skilled hands, can enforce decisions and move the project along. Now I'm talking about a committee with apparent power to act. Not one who's role is to make recommendations. So it must be a committee with a nominal membership of the main movers and shakers in the business and that has empowered its PM to manage the project on its behalf. Delegated power to give it a fancy name.

These types of committee usually arise when there is an urgent problem to fix in the business. An urgent meeting is called and an action plan agreed. Then the PM is empowered and can act on the plan. Also the PM, through the issue log, can raise further matters and get committee approval to act.

Now she can use the power of the committee to move the obstructionists out of the way.    Even the most stubborn of individuals finds it difficult to hold out against the combined power of the movers and shakers. Now here is where the skilled hands come in. Attendance at committee meetings always dwindles, the great and the good always have more demands on their attention than they have time. So the committee will have a core group - the "turners up" - and if the PM manages them adroitly she can move from taking direction to giving direction. Functionaries run committees, run companies, run nations. Don't neglect the power of the committee.    

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