Old Habits Are Good to Break
When a project team’s innovative solution to achieve its time-compressed goals was rejected by the sponsor, widespread resentment followed, a good project manager resigned, and the initiative faltered. Whether or not the idea would have worked, when leaders routinely stifle creativity the consequences can be dire and far-reaching.
A while ago I observed what initially seemed like a trivial conversation but ended up having far-reaching implications. It was one of those pivotal moments that you don’t realize is so important until after the fact. Here’s the scenario: Due to a number of problems a project was falling significantly behind schedule and one of the downstream teams, a training function, was being severely squeezed in the amount of time that they would have to complete their work. They were trying to do as much up front planning as possible, but they knew that it would be impossible to take their normal approach to the work and still achieve the goals within the timeline. As a result they were looking beyond what their standard methods — classroom courses, user guides, etc. — for innovative ways to achieve the same goals in less time. By focusing on skilled people rather than trained people they were able to identify completely new approaches that might be possible in the compressed timelines such as supported practice sessions and self-
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