Raise your hand if you’ve been in a meeting in which your innovative-leader-in-residence pitched the new “great idea.”
Keep your hand raised if you knew this newfound “innovation” was a horrible idea.
Keep it up if you knew it would add work to a staff already completely over-tasked.
Lastly, give me a ‘hallelujah’ if you’ve experienced copious and unnecessary change due to these innovative visions.
There is nothing wrong with innovation. Being candid for a moment, I think of myself as innovative and enjoy finding new ways to improve.
Innovation is good. The problem isn’t with innovation. One of my favorite project management quotes (and yes, I realize EXACTLY how nerdy that sounds) is “If innovation is successful change, then projects are how we deliver it.” (Paul Muller – 2013)
The problem is the unharnessed change and the waste of finite project resources. This change is overwhelmingly prevalent in project environments with little to no initiation process.
Believe it or not, project initiation consists of more than 2 ITTOs, a process group, a knowledge area, and some memorization. It’s a lot more than “the statement of work is established, business case identified, charter signed and project manager assigned.” (If you know, you know).
People always look at me like I have an extra appendage growing out of my forehead when I talk about the importance of initiating projects correctly. These same people are also miserable in their personal and professional lives.
Miserable due to never having clear objectives outlined for the many new initiatives leaders introduce to stay viable in an ever-changing environment.
Miserable because working on these non-initiated projects takes time away from personal and familial commitments.
I want you to remember the word “before” as a take-away from this.
Before you allocate humans to a project, ensure the project should exist in the first place.
Before you authorize time, money, and people to a project, please take a moment to consider this is a proper usage of their (often-already-overcommitted) time.
Before you decide based solely upon your expertise and innovative wisdom, pause and seek the counsel of trusted stakeholders.
Lastly, take a long and honest look in the mirror. There’s a solid chance you are just making excuses for the behavior of others as you choose to take the path of least resistance and hide the truth, Those aren’t shiny new clothes; the emperor is naked.