The Value of “Think Time”

Nov 4th, 2009 | By | Category: Items for Project Managers

There’s an interesting article I ran across over in a blog in Tech Republic called “Innovative project managers use ‘think time’. In the article it is pointed out that project managers not only need to be systematic but also innovative. That combination got me to thinking just like the article intended. How many times have we gotten into a project and put it on “automatic” spending most of our time conducting status meetings, updating action item lists and (depending upon the company) tracking financials?

This automatic approach may work most of the time but quite honestly is that what a company should expect from someone who is a professional project manager? After all, those tasks I mentioned earlier could just as easily be performed by an administrative person.

All of this leads us as project managers to realize that although we are usually “…driving projects at 100 mph with their hair on fire.”, what we are really being paid to do is to look out for the contingencies that may bite us and to keep striving for the better way.

Specifically setting up time during a project to step back and think about what is going on and the path forward is crucial to a project. One approach may be to have sat down when the project started and have a formalized approach to weighing risks and alternatives as you begin the project. A suggestion might be a systematic approach like the Kepner-Tregoe Problem Solving and Decision Making (PSDM) model.

If you as the innovative project manager have set aside time as the project begins to actually step through a systematic evaluation of alternatives, not only is your approach on root cause analysis already performed but by reviewing your initial evaluation at set points along the project path, you have an excellent way to review just how those alternatives are viable as the project unfolds.

There is an good overview of the PSDM model written by Hank Marquis at Thinking About Problems: Kepner-Tregoe®

You can find the original Tech Republic article here at Innovative project managers use ‘think time’

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