Monday, November 5, 2012

Top Ten Lessons of Project Leadership

I was very happy chained up in the lab finding new ways to break things. However, due to career and company needs I was chosen to helm some projects.

Therefore, I went from providing data to field sales people and other engineers that can be used to increase market share and release new products to taking information provided by other people and putting it in the proper section of a three ring binder. Somehow, this is progress.

I have managed to learn a few lessons on the way to pass along:

As soon as you run a large expensive chemical/biological analysis of the entire product line, a dozen OEM vendors will suddenly and immediately need to implement material changes.

Someone too high in the organization for you to refuse will require a detailed, fact based quantifiable list of all unforeseeable problems with the project.

It isn’t the eight to twelve hour tasks that will slow a project down. It’s the five to ten minute tasks that end up taking three days that do it.

Information requests from other countries may seem insane because you are not familiar with their culture. This is incorrect, they really are insane.

It is easier to bend the fabric of space and time itself than to update a Microsoft Project timeline to reflect the actual duration and completion of events that have already passed.

The most important class missing from every engineering curriculum is:
Vendors Give Less than a Festering Goose Turd About Your Schedule 101.

For every member of Senior Staff on a project team that you lead, your workload grows exponentially.

Any story of marketing changes to the goals of a project in progress can easily end with the phrase:
 “And that’s when I killed them your honor.”

No matter how many times a team member has gone over your head, ignored your directions, prevented other team members from completing tasks, and tried to sabotage the project:
Wait until they leave the conference room before whispering, “asshole.”
Otherwise it will be a VERY long meeting.

If the project you are leading is scheduled to complete in February.
And the project you are a team member of is scheduled to complete in September. 
As soon as you schedule a long July vacation, your project will hit a delaying design snag.
The other project will be fast track accelerated.
Both projects will be due for government body audits in July.
In addition- In May, you will inherit leadership of the second project.

Check out this friend's site for some actual helpful hints.


longbow said...

When I die, I want to go to "Phase 2" because that's the place to where we always push the good stuff.

My Grandfather, an electrical power engineer on large mostly government projects, used to like the expression, "A lack of planning on your part does not constitute and emergency on our part". This may be why he was mostly a valued individual contributor for most of his career.

Jeff McGinley said...

I think we all dream of living in phase 2...

Your Grandfather has a noble and valued sentiment...sadly it is not a sentiment that rolls well uphill.

Thanx for visiting!

Linda said...

These rules in a modified form also work for higher ed projects as have no idea

Jeff McGinley said...

"The bureaucratic mentality is the only constant in the universe." Dr. Leonard H. McCoy

Thanx for posting!

Chris said...

I love the Sr. Staff rule. So True!

Jeff McGinley said...

Thanx Chris.
Sadly, it's not even due to malice or delegation. It's simply the matter of every, "have you considered...?" needing to become an action item.