Managing your problems as a portfolio may help you.
One of the keys to improving your team and organization is to identify and understand your problems. Another key is to prioritize and solve the right ones.
We’ve all seen the need for recording lessons learnt on projects. The premise is that we’ll see what has happened before and change what we can improve what we do. There are a plethora of knowledge management systems on the market and in use on projects that enable recording, retrieving and disseminating lessons learnt. (though the level of use of these tools varies greatly – that’s another story!)
In addition to good practices, we often record problems, issues and risks that eventuated in projects. We record both the good and the bad in the knowledge management systems.
What is often NOT done is to analyze problems on an organization-wide basis. This misses the problems that occur repeatedly. The lessons learnt knowledge management systems tend to be snapshot oriented and do not lend themselves easily to longer-term and endemic problems. When organization-wide problems are identified, they are normally a bugbear of someone who keeps experiencing the problem (though they may not be able to solve the problem themselves). It is normally not the result of systematic analysis.
Of course this is one area where QA staff (via process audits and QA process reviews) can help. By looking at processes that may be enacted by several projects, QA may be able to identify problems that cross projects and teams.
But QA is normally unaffordable in smaller companies. Even in larger companies they are spread pretty thin on the ground.
A solution to this problem can be to use either:
- management system review; or
- executive management team meeting
to review organizational problems on a quarterly or six-monthly basis.
By making it the EMT/ELT’s responsibility (and preferably one person responsible for organizing it) you can get important problems brought to the attention of senior staff.
Simply delegating to junior/operational staff that they need to figure out a solution completely misses the point. Executives and senior staff are the key to understanding important organizational issues and determining potential solutions.
That’s the when.
The how is in Part 2.