Be positive – Be happy………… the team…

 Ink Blot

OK here is the scenario – Do you pass the “ink blot test”??.

It is Friday afternoon on the day before a holiday weekend. You are on the telephone to a venture capital company in New York wanting to know about RoHS impact. The project you are working on since October and which has had three design revisions is finally about to exit manufacture and be ready for test. It is actually running to the revised plan of record and the ETA for the boards is 4-30 pm and the whole management team is looking for results.

Oh and did I mention  that you are in the process of buying a house in the horrendously expensive silicon valley and things are not going well…….And the phone rings and Sandra from UC Santa Cruz says “Hi John can you be a drop in blogger this weekend” and the answer is ………..”of course”…………..8-)

This scenario reminds me that program management sometimes is most certainly not a “regular” job. The programs can run on 24 x 7 design and manufacturing schedules, and it is up to the program manager to look at the incoming data and package it in such a fashion that the resulting email trains and meetings can contribute constructively to the forward progress of the project.

It is critically important to take a positive approach and make sure that set backs are delivered with a positive “fresh challenge” approach rather that a “documentary of a disaster” delivery message.

The program manager is responsible for the plan of record and it is important that attempts to derail this by “knee jerk” email threads reacting to set backs without meetings and buy in are to be hi lighted and corrected where appropriate.

The thing about program management in many companies is that although you are in effect “managing the Program” that the individuals forming a part of the team are in fact not under your direct control, and the individuals can have managers from several different departments such as operations, quality, engineering etc. So it is important from the outset to establish that in the case of the program, that you are employed to manage all aspects of the direction and progress of it, and bring a “can do” message to the team and be responsible for arranging all meeting and agenda items and schedules, as well as ensuring that SMART goals and meeting minutes are taken and distributed in a timely manner.

It can be more like a marketing job at some times and of course comes with the level of detail of a Bill of Materials…..8-), but I can say that without good program management, many projects would probably stall for weeks and months at a time because of the team view that “someone else is taking care of that”

Well “someone else” I would like to say on this Presidents day weekend that you are doing a great job. Relax for the weekend; get back in there on Tuesday. Be enthusiastic and positive on all aspects of the project. Let the enthusiasm get infectious, harness it, focus it, and get that project out on time!!

Have a great Presidents day weekend.

John Burke

Santa Clara CA 2/16/08


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