Responsibility Without Wiggle Room


Mediocre organizations are often plagued by the rampant abdication of responsibility of the very people who are supposed to be leading them. At every layer of management, these evasive characters somehow avoid committing to anything outside of their minuscule comfort zones. They fog their agreements with weasel-words that foreshadow their impending failure to deliver as promised. Adding to the confusion, the roles of team members are not clearly defined on many projects. Like a body without a head, the team lurches fitfully toward some hazy destination, unsure of who’s doing what. Most typical org charts don’t capture the complex relationships between people working on project teams. A Project Team Organization Chart can clarify who is leading the charge in each area.Regardless of the titles involved, this org chart focuses on the roles of individuals in the project, and on their relationship to the project team. The Project Team Org Chart has no dotted line reporting relationships, or crisscrossing matrices where people report to multiple managers. It aligns goals and roles, at least for the duration of the project.

By publishing this chart to the team, their functional managers, and beyond, you establish an expectation of leadership, teamwork, and accountability to the project that is stronger than a position in some outdated hierarchical staffing diagram. This chart can also easily serve as a visual Responsibility Allocation Matrix, just by adding a few bullets next to each person’s name, to indicate key areas of responsibility.You don’t need a slick diagram posted on the company intranet to achieve this kind of clarity. For co-located teams, a simple hand-drawn chart hung where all members can see it can be a great clarifier. This kind of chart is even more important for people who are peripherally involved with the team, as they are the ones most likely to be unsure of each person’s role. Once everyone involved in any way with the project understands roles clearly, the pace of progress quickens and the frequency of the blame game slackens.Why bother making your own team org chart?

Generally, the people dynamics within companies are not as simplistic as the hierarchical organization charts that are drawn to describe them. Take a look at one and you’ll probably be able to discern who’s earning the highest salary, but I doubt that you’ll see how work really gets done. Traditional functional org charts contain little indication of the rich and complex working relationships upon which most business results depend. In today’s fast-moving global business environment, projects cut across functional areas and reporting relationships often don’t exist between teammates.

Do whatever you have to do to ensure that roles and responsibilities are unmistakably understood and agreed upon by all. Wondering who’s doing what by when is extremely unnerving when your project matters. Clear accountability with no wiggle room will be a relief to everyone on the project.

Scrappily yours, Kimberly

P.S. If you want more of a noggin’ floggin’ on this kind of thing, pre-order my Scrappy Project Management book at my publisher’s website.


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