in Business, Life

The journey versus the outcome

We’ve recently had some landscaping done, at home. While the end result is absolutely beautiful, there is one aspect of the project which didn’t sit too well with me. While working from home, I’m aware of all of the goings on with the landscaping, can view the progress day to day and can also hear the project lead bossing her team around. I use the term “bossing” as my personal interpretation of how the project was handled. This got me thinking about project management and what the project manager cares more about; the journey or the outcome.

The Journey

The process of completing the project. 1 to 100. “A” to “Z”. How do we achieve the desired outcome and how do we feel while achieving said outcome? I refer to this as the journey aspect of the project.

If a project manager focusses on the journey, they look after their team members, make sure the team members have everything they need in order to get the job done (and feel great while doing so) and makes sure the team member is in the best possible frame of mind while working on the project. The project manager then gets out of the way and lets the team focus.

The theory here is, if the team is feeling fulfilled and enjoying their journey, the outcome will be favourable.

The Outcome

The result of the project. You know what needs to be done and all you want to see is the outcome. Whether sleepless nights of coding or hours in the hot sun with a 10 minute lunch break, as long as the outcome is as desired, you’re satisfied.

The Caveat

At this stage, after hearing this “bossing around” happening for several days, I thought “sheesh, that’s not right. The team should be trusted to achieve the desired outcome, regardless of how they are treated. Therefore treat them well and get out of their way”. That’s how I run the projects and teams I manage. I make sure my team members have everything they need and are excited about the project. I then step aside and let the project happen, knowing full well that the outcome will be amazing.

As with everything in life, I decided it was important to take a step back, look at the full picture and understand every aspect of what was really going on in this landscaping project. Despite all of the bossing around, and the 30 minute lunch break, the team gets to leave work an hour earlier than the average worker each day (4pm instead of 5pm). This allows the team more time with their families and a longer rest period after a busy day.

The Driving Force

Interestingly enough, this project manager had seemingly found a “slightly off” (yet somehow workable) balance between focussing on the journey and on the outcome. The X-factor here, I feel, is her consideration for her team. Out of consideration for their lives outside of work, the project manager found a way to focus on the outcome of the project, as well as the outcome of the team members, while slightly adjusting the journey along the way. What I mistook for “bossing around” was actually “come on lads, lets get this job done”.

It’s interesting how taking a step back can reveal so many lessons, within a seemingly uncomfortable situation.

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