Friday, April 7, 2023

Is it activity, methods, or outcomes?

Back in yesteryear, I recall the first time I had a management job big enough that my team was too large for line-of-sight from my desk and location.

Momentary panic: "What are they doing? How will I know if they are doing anything? What if I get asked what are they doing? How will I answer any of these questions?"

Epiphany: What I thought were important metrics got reordered. I realized 'activity' becomes less important, whereas outcomes rise to the top
  • Activity becomes not too important. Where and when they worked could be delegated to managers and team leaders working locally and close to the action.
  • Methods are still important because Quality (in the large sense) is buried in Methods. So, I decided that I can't let methods be delegated willy nilly. Methods are something to be trained and practiced so that quality, predictability, and reliability are built-in.
  • Outcomes now become the biggie: are we getting results according to expectations?
There's that word: "Expectations", which of course is tied to 'results'
In any enterprise large enough to not have line-of-sight to everyone, there are going to be lots of 'distant' managers, executives, investors, and customers who have 'expectations'. And, they have the money! 

But not only do they have the money, they have a big say about how the money is going to be allocated and spent. So, you don't get a free ride on making up your own expectations (if you ever did)

Results, tied to Expectations
The PMO job is to map expectations into doable results, which is another version of 'deliverables'. Deliverables are, of course, multi-dimensional: feature, function, schedule (or availability to users and customers) and cost-price-margin which connects the dots between the project (cost), the customer (price) and the business (margin)

Back to my epiphany.
At the End of the Day:
  • I had 800 on my team
  • 400 of them were in overseas locations
  • 400 of them were in multiple US locations
  • I had multiple offices
  • It all worked out: we made money!

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