Bill Engvall has a comedy routine where he gives the listeners a unique understanding of warning labels. I sometimes wonder if there shouldn’t be an encyclopaedia of warning labels so that project managers have a heads up when working with project stakeholders. I thought it would be fun to put together a short list of warning labels to serve as a glossary for the rest of us, project managers included.
|The Warning Label
|What It Really Means.
|1. “It will be okay. We’ll pay the bill.”
|BP or any organization – not likely in this or any life time
|2. “Risk! What risk, it is just like surface drilling only under a mile of water. Nothing can ever go wrong.”
|Drill Baby Drill (Guess Who said this .. and I don’t mean the band)
|3. “Beware of cowards in sheep’s clothing.”
|Politicians of any stripe and any country. We’ll take the path of least resistance because a lobbyist has money for me. It isn’t about the people, this is all about me getting re-elected.
|4. “Don’t worry it won’t happen.”
|Every project stakeholder and person with an agenda that is too lazy to do the work required to figure out whether it could happen or not.
|5. “I won’t be micromanaged. I’ll fight it all the way to the end of the project.”
|I don’t want you to know what I am doing so get lost and stop asking for information.
|6. “Trust me.”
|If I had a dollar for every person who has ever told me that during my reasonably short life, I would be a billionaire. The right answer is “Trust you, I don’t know you.”
|7. “Everything I do is a priority 1.”
|Nobody in this company can make a decision about what should be done first. Quite frankly, nobody cares to make that decision because it would mean turning someone down.
|8. “Just get it done.”
|Don’t plan the work. Just execute the work, no one cares about what is involved in solving the problem so just get to work. In fact, to hell with the outcome.
|9. “We have time to do it over but not time to do it right the first time.”
|It is okay to waste money and effort. After all, planning is only an exercise and of no real value. Look at the decisions that come out of the board room.
|10. “It isn’t my fault!”
|To every person, who walked away from a situation, you made the decision to walk away. Responsibility is about making a decision and Accountability is about owning the outcome of that decision. Every decision you that ever made you own. Full stop.
|“I need to know who’s a$$ to kick.”
|Just in case you wonder, someone with the right character will hold you accountable for those decisions you make at some point. The future is basesd on the decisions made today. Cowardice is unbecoming a project manager or any other human being. Let’s hope the person with character is on the wimpy side and you have a chance to make a speedy getaway.
As I write this blog, I am having trouble stopping at 11 labels. It feels like I could go on forever. My thought for the day is “accountability is part of the circle of life. You can elect to accept it or you can run away from it and it will find you anyway. As a project manager, whether it is with a large P and large M or not, you are accountable for every decision you make. You don’t have the luxury of putting warning labels on those decisions. You have to say what you mean and mean what you say.”
To quote Bill Engvall, “here is your sign.”