On occasion, I encounter a project manager in the wild who has forgotten (or perhaps never really knew) what it means to manage a project, let alone what it means to run one. These people labor under the delusion that project managers take notes and regurgitate information.
I was searching through my old emails this morning and found the following gem. This is actual text from an actual email sent by an actual “project manager”.
I wanted to ensure that you are all being diligent about taking notes, completing and sending minutes after discussions with me. In each of those discussions whether it be on the phone, in a hallway or in a scheduled meeting, you are responsible for putting out the minutes. This is the only way I can be sure of your understanding of my direction and assignments.
Even if I am holding a team meeting. Each of you is responsible for individually completing minutes and sending to me. I will then compare your minutes to my notes. This is one of the main purposes of minutes and will ensure we do not miscommunication or misunderstand each other. I will expect these minutes to go out within 24 hrs. just like project minutes, but I will be the only one copied. Please direct all questions to me. Lastly, I believe some of you owe me minutes from discussions today!
I think that Seth Godin summed up my feelings about project management in this post: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/07/the-difference-between-running-and-managing-a-project.html.
Project managers should RUN projects. Software can take and distribute notes. It’s the project manager’s job to make tough decisions, to fix problems, to inspire, and to make sure that the final outcome makes the recipients happy and makes the team members proud of what they’ve accomplished. To accomplish all of these things, a project manager must be able to communicate well — well enough that he does not need to double or triple check comprehension from every member of the team in relation to every conversation.
Every time a project manager takes a note, writes a schedule, or creates a document, it should be as a helpful tool to RUN the project. Creating artifacts because you don’t trust your team or because PMBOK says that you should is just wasted, useless overhead.