Saturday, October 20, 2018

Life Saving Methods that Project Managers should incorporate


I have read an eye-opening book titled “The Checklist Manifesto: How to get things right” by Atul Gawande.  This book was published in 2009 but still has relevance today mainly because of Gawande’s approach of not only getting things done but by getting them done right the first time. He was intrigued by a story he read of a child that fell into a frozen pond and was saved by a doctor that followed checklists. He was also moved to write when he researched about the airline industry and the way it discovered how to make a pilot’s job easier and making the pilot more efficient especially in critical situations. The movie Sully about the pilot Chesley Sullenburger is a good example of what Dr. Gawande  found in his research.

Dr. Gawande makes a distinction between errors of ignorance (mistakes that are made because there isn’t enough knowledge) and errors of ineptitude (mistakes that are made because of not properly using the knowledge we have). So as a Project Manager (PM), I read this with the mindset of how life-savings methods can make PMs better. I am not just speaking about PMs in the healthcare, medical and pharmaceutical fields, but all PMs in every field. So let’s take these two (2) distinctions one at a time.

Errors of Ignorance

Respectfully, this is not hard. For PMs, if we are a Project Management Professional (PMP), we must keep our certification by taking continuing education credits. If you are a PM that likes to challenge yourself, you will take the credits that updates your certification along with credits that stretch your limits, possibly by learning how to PM in another industry or field of study. By doing both, you keep current in fields like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain and other new technologies.

Errors of Ineptitude

Now, this is the hard part. It’s hard because we have all made these types of errors. Whether it’s because we are rushed due to a deadline or because of a mistake that should have not happened. You may ask, why do we need to consider a method of life-savings methods? Because being thorough and accurate is critical for any PM even if they are not working on life-saving projects. Using some of Dr. Gawande’s methods, here is what I suggest as a PM do the following:
·     
          Check and re-check your tasks and work.   Have a second and even a third set of eyes review your work and those on your project team

·        Bring your project team into this line of thinking and process by using it in your project meetings
·       Identify all possible risks, issues and errors
o   With risks, discuss with your project team how to avoid, mitigate, accept or  transfer each risk every time your team meets
o   With issues, discuss all possible ways to resolve them. Do not leave any possibility off the table and do not ignore any solution no matter what the cost
o   With errors, do not identify to point fingers but to resolve them and to avoid them in the future. The PM must ensure that the person(s) responsible for the error feel  comfortable enough to discuss why and how the error was made and how to avoid them in the future.
·     
          Ensure that any team member knows that they can approach you or any team member anytime to bring up any idea, possible risk or issue and most importantly, any error.
·        Once errors are identified, training on them may be needed on how to avoid them in the future. As the PM, ensure that your team members have all the training they need.
These are just some of the steps a PM can take to ensure the project has limited errors. Just like Six Sigma, we want to limit the errors before we get to UAT. The goal here is to make the process and the team better in a continuous fashion. That way, the team never stops innovating.

I am open to discussion at any time on these blogs or anything else related to project management you would like to explore. If you would like to comment about this blog, please do so by posting on this blog or by responding in an email at Benny A. Recine. You may inspire a blog article. I look forward to your comments.