Project Practitioners > Sanity check: Who are you ASSUMING is committed?

Sanity check: Who are you ASSUMING is committed?

By Cinda Voegtli

A sanity check to consider, on a Monday morning as you start the new week, or any time you are stepping back to take stock (which should be often enough to catch bad assumptions, or any bad mojo, before damage is done)...

Think about your team.  Stakeholders.  Sponsor. Managers of the resources on your critical project. People who obviously SHOULD be committed... to the goals, to managing risks in their area, to making sure this thing will succeed.


Just because they signed the Charter...

Just because they participated in planning and got to have their say on deadlines...

Just because they are in team meetings...

Just because their boss told them s/he expects them to be a fully-functioning functional Core Team member...

Just because their critical milestone is next up and is getting talked about weekly...

...We  still cannot assume they are truly committed, at every moment, in every decision, to stand for THIS project, make decisions accordingly, follow through perfectly.


NOT because they're bad people, or careless, or suddenly against the project.

But simply because.. "The Real World Rules." 

There are always distractions, competing priorities, new things added to their plates.  There may be big challenges suddenly in their way.  There may be a fear of speaking up about sudden bad news. There may be burnout.

It's the job of the project manager / project LEADER to assume nothing... to trust but verify... to sanity check the situation periodically.  Certainly to watch our early warning devices such as thorough, cross-functional, frequent-enough milestones; sudden slides in on-time action item completion... But we also must augment those facts with with a keen attention to other warning signs: Lack of attention in meetings - or eye-rolls!  Mutterings about workloads.  Sudden conflicts with attending reviews or team meetings.  And even further, actively make opportunities for team members to let us know what's REALLY going on with them, by helping casual, natural conversations just happen.

It's our job to proactively make it safe and natural for people to come to us  to speak up about issues with their commitment. (True commitment is ACTION, not an attitude.  They may be mentally committed, yet about to have big trouble following through, due to other impacts on their world. How great would it be if they come to us with such issues?)

Find out before it just "happens to you and the project".  Don't assume full-on follow-through-guaranteed commitment.  Sit back and sanity check!

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