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Management by Walking Around

by Doug Boebinger, MS, PMP®

Employees and manager in a meeting

Maybe you have seen the TV show titled “Undercover Boss.”  If not, let me give you a little background.  The concept is that CEO’s of major corporations, sitting behind their big desks, seeing the world thru spreadsheets and Powerpoint presentations, have lost touch with the working person.  So the CEO goes undercover in his/her own company as an entry level employee working with other people from the company.

Inevitably, the CEO learns that the employees are real people with real stories and problems and not just numbers on spreadsheets.  CEO’s learn that employees care about the success of the company.  CEO’s learn that the employee has a better understanding of what the company needs to be profitable and successful than does the CEO.

As project managers, should we go “undercover” in our own projects to learn better about the project team and the inter-workings of our projects?  Do we sit behind our computers, looking at spreadsheets, schedules, and cock-pit charts thinking this tells us all we need to know?  Do we search out and encourage suggestions from the team as to how to do the project better?

Back in the old days (when I had more hair, it was dark and on the top of my head), we didn’t have computers and we actually had to get out of the office and talk to people.  Sadly, this concept has slipped away to the point where now there is a management technique called “Management By Walking Around” with its own acronym MBWA. (Google it, I’m not kidding, or just check out this Forbes article).  This revolutionary concept is: Get out from behind your desk and talk to people.

Well, that’s my two cents worth…

Now, back to my spreadsheets…

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