I just finished stacking two cords of wood, much like a squirrel getting ready for a long cold winter. My feet were doing the “Boy is it cold dance” in an effort to keep the blood circulating.
As I was picking up the scraps, my eldest picked up a piece and placed it in his backpack. When I asked him what he would do with it he told me he was going to carve it after school. His statement brought back boyhood memories of hours of whittling, an activity done if for no other reason than to get from one minute to the next. Grab a stick and whittle it away until there was nothing left. What next? Grab another. The weight of the pocketknife felt equally good in my hand as it did in my pocket.
When is the last time the thought of whittling crossed your mind? Probably been a long time. It’s an activity meant for idle minds and hands, or minds that should be idle.
Speaking of idle minds, there are times I find myself questioning what value so and so brings to the party. Do you do that? “Why is she in this meeting?” You know who I mean. You’re sitting there trying to get your work done and all of a sudden, some Mensa wannabe with more idle time on their hands than a Lipitor salesman at a BBQ cook-off, makes an aerial assault on your cubicle like a pigeon on a Rodin bronze. Drops in and changes the rules of the universe, at least your universe.
This happens more often than is documented on large healthcare IT projects. People set new courses and define program rules that may have nothing whatsoever to do with the project’s charter or scope. You do have a written charter and scope in the project office, don’t you? If not, it’s easy to see how new directions and rules can be given a certain specious authority.
What’s the best way to handle this situation? Often these management Mensas are nervous about a lack of visible results and they need to report on something. They may feel the need to be doing something, something resembling leading. They don’t mean to interfere, and they believe that their little forays into the world of super PMO (Program Management Officer) will actually add value. You tell me, are they adding value, or are they preventing the team from sticking to the scope? There’s that irritating scope word again. The next time you see one wandering aimlessly through the rows of cubicles, hand that person a pocketknife and a nice piece of balsa wood. Although their efforts won’t add any value to what you’re trying to accomplish, at least it will get them out of the way for a little while.