January 16, 2014 2 Comments
Research by Ana Guinote and Mario Weick shows that people in positions of power are particularly ineffective planners. People who feel powerful focus on getting what they want and ignore the potential obstacles that stand in the way. The planning efforts of powerful people rely frequently on “best case scenarios” and lead to far shorter time estimates than more practical plans that take into account what may go wrong.
Good time management starts with the deliverable and breaks it into manageable pieces, understanding the activities required to support each, and an estimate based on multiple factors such as group size, functionality, and experience. However, most leaders are relatively poor at estimating the time they will need to complete any task. Psychologists refer to this as both the planning fallacy and the bias of overconfidence. Fallacies and biases put us at increasing risk of reaching our objectives on time.
You can learn more accurately how to predict the length of an activity and become a better estimator and planner, if you consider the potential obstacles and two other factors.
1. Reflect on your past experiences and how long similar activities have taken in the past, and
2. Break the activity into smaller pieces or tasks (e.g., questions or steps) and factor in the time for each task.
For example, Brainstorming as an activity should be broken into three tasks, namely:
1. Diverge or List—estimate time based on whether or not you are using break-out teams, ELMO rule (Enough, Let’s Move On), etc.
2. Analyze—estimate based on the tool to be used (e.g., PowerBalls or Decision Matrix) and allow time for scrubbing the list. Estimate separately for some time for thorough definitions, capturing omissions, and deleting sub-optimal input.
3. Converge or Decide—estimate based on providing substantial reflection (i.e., active listening) around the rationale for decisions made and allow extra time for testing the decision against the initial purpose of the decision.
Become Part of the Solution, Improve Your Facilitation Skills
The FAST curriculum on Professional Facilitation Skills details the responsibilities and dynamics mentioned above. Remember, nobody is smarter than everybody, so consult your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST professional facilitative leadership training workshop offered around the world (see MG Rush for a current schedule — an excellent way to earn 40 PDUs from PMI, CDUs from IIBA, or CEUs).
Do not forget to order Change or Die if you working on a business process improvement project. It provides detailed workshop agendas and detailed tools to make your role easier and your team’s performance a lot more effective—daring you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.
- Planning fallacy: why people suck at planning (sandglaz.com)
- Article: Estimating on agile projects: what’s the story, what’s the point? (infoq.com)
- IIBA Announces New Online Library for IIBA Members (projectmanagementforecm.wordpress.com)