In my last post, “Perfect Information” And What To Do With It: A Project Manager’s Perspective, I discussed the value of perfect information and how to accelerate the development of a high octane team utilizing perfect information. With this article we explore the idea of taking a minimalist approach to project management to achieve maximum results. When delivering information as a project manager to team members, there is a balance in delivering necessary project information ‘right away’ that will eventually be needed, versus delivering information ‘only’ when it is needed. Ultimately we as project managers face the dilemma of when to disseminate information.
Delivering the right information too early
We can always get project details over to team members ‘right away’ (or as soon as the details come in) by forwarding emails, leaving a voicemail with a team member, or by chasing a team member down in the halls to relay necessary information. Under this methodology of information dissemination, team members will always be on the ‘same page’ as you, the project manager. In theory, this method of dissemination is great, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the team member will have the head space at that moment to effectively internalize and process the information. Quite simply, delivering the ‘right’ information too early can often be distracting.
The question then becomes: How frequently does a PM have to disseminate information to keep a project on track?
Refining the delivery and frequency of information is an art form. Deliver information too early, and you have to repeat yourself over and over. Deliver information too late and you will place unnecessary stress on team members, as in the case of duplicating effort as a result of rework. There is an alternative, an intuitive Zen-like approach that we can take, to deliver information only when it is ‘absolutely’ needed.
Finding your management Zen
To discover your own level of Zen management, experiment and refine your approach to content delivery by:
- Reducing the number of emails you send and phone messages you leave
- Reducing the number of informal ‘water cooler’ meetings or formal meetings
- Finding the right balance between email, instant messaging and voicemail for EACH teammate
- Acting as a sentinel by sheltering your team members from distractions across competing project demands. In a multi-project environment sometimes you may have to keep a team member focused on another project (sometimes this won’t be your project!) in order to free up the teammate’s head space before focusing entirely on your project.
- Creating energy and experiences for all team members at every touch point, using humor and storytelling. This is especially effective as team member’s transition from one task to the next, or one project to the next.
- Delivering timely and succinct packets of information tailored exactly to where your team member’s head space is, and ‘only when’ that team member is mentally prepared.
Ultimately, the financial objectives which we are all driven by don’t sound too Zen-like, but the approach we take behind the scenes to achieve maximum results can become pure Zen, as we tune in to the nuances of our organizations’ project landscape. Through a minimalist approach, you can create a wonderful ebb and flow with your extraordinary team, one that ultimately creates results that are much greater than the sum of its parts.
How do you find your management Zen? Join the conversation.