Increasingly, project information is becoming the sole property of the individual assigned to a specific role on the project. “The schedule is mine. No one gets to touch it. No one gets to see it without my permission.” was the rallying cry at a meeting recently. What surprised me was that it wasn’t the project manager making the statement. It was the project scheduler! A person who can be the lynch pin for monitoring progress against the target date.
I was literally rendered speechless. I could feel my jaws clench as I fought to keep my amazement from translating into words. (There would normally be a serious expletive deleted here.) As a project manager, I am the person that takes the heat if a project is in trouble. I cannot fathom a situation where I would have to beg, nag or cajole to see the schedule. Never mind, that it isn’t current.
Here is the standard whine. The schedule is too complex. The PM doesn’t really understand the risks. The issues aren’t part of the project. It is systemic. We can’t make them do the work. The sponsor isn’t on board. If we tell them (the stakeholders), what is really going on we’ll be in the dog house.
My gut response, based on my military experience, is to tell the detractors that team work is about having live team members at the end of the project.
Under no circumstances, should some jerk (this is a gender neutral description), who believes that their personal position is more important than the rest of the team, be worth more than any individual team member. By the way, external consultants aren’t necessarily better than your internal staff.
As the project manager, I am going to take the hit for the team. Sometimes, it will be superficial but occasionally it will be a direct hit. I can only lead from the front if I have all the information I need to make informed decisions. No one, I repeat, no one should be selfish enough to put the team at risk.
The right to project information is global not personal. No individual, regardless of their personal fears, has the right to put their team members in jeopardy. Selfishness is ugly in any form but dangerous when decisions are made from a position of deliberate ignorance. By deliberate ignorance, I mean team members who deliberately withhold information or the occasional project manager who just shouldn’t have the job.
The rallying cry should be “The Right Information creates the Right Environment for Success”. The bottom line is that there should be a special place for anyone who consciously puts a team member or a project at risk because they hoard information that would provide the necessary platform for success.
In other words, “if you are afraid that you can be replaced, you will be by someone who is willing to take the necessary risk and share information.” Your other choice is to “buy a life .. at WalMart, Target, The Bay, Zellers, or …. “.