The perils of over proactivity

From the Easy in theory, difficult in practice Blog
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My musings on project management, project portfolio management and change management. I'm a firm believer that a pragmatic approach to organizational change that addresses process & technology, but primarily, people will maximize chances for success. This blog contains articles which I've previously written and published as well as new content.

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Categories: Project Management


At the start of our vacation, we had one stop en route to our final destination. We were supposed to have a two hour layover, but after landing we learned that our outbound flight would be delayed by another hour. As the end of that extra hour drew near we were informed that our flight would be delayed by a further two hours. While we were dismayed by these successive delays, I enquired and learned that the cause was a mechanical problem with the plane we were supposed to have departed on, hence the airline operations staff had to scramble to locate an alternate aircraft. While this was a frustrating situation, we appreciated the safety first focus of the airline and as we had built sufficient wiggle room into our travel plans we weren't overly concerned.

As we soon overheard, this was not the case for all of our fellow passengers who were waiting near the gate.

On our flight was a small tour group whose subsequent travel plans appeared to have much less buffer built into them. While the new departure time for our outbound flight would still fall within their critical path, their group leader was understandably concerned. Rather than addressing her concerns by speaking with the gate staff to understand the cause for the delays or by exploring options with them in case our flight was further delayed, she decided to take matters into her own hands.

She booked the group on a new flight with a different carrier to the final destination. As this was a last minute booking, the costs were quite high.

Our outbound flight pulled in to the gate on time based on the updated departure time. The group leader proceeded to argue with the airline's gate staff that they should refund her group for the costs of their alternate bookings. The airline staff were very professional but also quite firm in letting her know that the airline was in no way responsible for her actions and she should have consulted with them prior to taking such a step.

We may be accountable for an outcome but we shouldn't assume ownership for issues which belong to or can be better resolved by our team members or delivery partners. We have enough concerns which we personally own to take possession of other's albatrosses.

Posted on: June 16, 2019 10:42 AM | Permalink

Comments (18)

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I can’t agree with you more Kiron. Sometimes we get too carried away ...

Good points, sir. Thank you. Sometimes we have to trust in our due diligence and just let it fly from there.

Very interesting, thanks for sharing

Nice example!

Good example of the expression " We'll cross the bridge when we get there"

We always need to guard for impulsiveness (which is way that people's intuition is expressed).

Great metaphor for project managers!

Good one, Kiron and thanks for sharing.

Nice Example .Thanks for sharing.

Good. Thank you for sharing your insights

Very interesting! Thank you for sharing.

This is a great example that demonstrates a few key PMP/Project Management topics cleanly and concisely like critical path method. Thanks Kiron!

Hello Kiron: Very good example! Thank you for sharing and I hope you enjoyed your trip!

So true. Thank you.

Good example of the "Not my monkey, not my circus" theory. Too many PMs that I know, myself included, take ownership of items that shouldn't be theirs.

Hi Kiran.. very much true.. sometimes we presume and took a ownership.
Thank you for sharing

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