It's a Project Manager's World Newsletter with Dr. James Brown
      April, 2014 Full Moon Edition      

Have a Process to Identify and Resolve Issues and Conflict Quickly - The Number Seven Project Manager Success Factor

Making decisions is only a small part of leadership. Getting decisions made (where buy in is achieved by stakeholders) is a bigger part of leadership and this is what is necessary to resolve issues.  If I could have one metric to gauge organizational performance for an organization it would be the age of issues.

Old issues are like old fish, they stink!

When it comes to issues the basics (which many organizational leaders seem to struggle with) are:

1.  Do you know what issues you have?
2.  Are the issues understood (ramifications, ownership, multiple perspectives)?
3.  Do you fix those issues quickly?

Having a process to identify and resolve issues and conflict quickly doesn't always mean a formal process.  Judgment is allowed.  Formality can me a good thing for issues that are significant or cross organizational boundaries or complex etc.  Informality can also be a good thing if the issue is politically or personally sensitive or something minor that should not unnecessarily burden the documentation trail.

Most project issues warrant being formally tracked with a specific identification number.  An issue tracking chart plotting all of these issues by age is a very effective communicator of what issues need to be fixed and serves to put pressure on "the system" to get it fixed. 

Putting pressure on "the system" is often necessary to drive issue resolution and a good project manager should use every opportunity to graciously waft the rotten smell of old issues, and the chart showing issues by age serves this purpose.  Besides, putting pressure on 'the system" can be fun, and part of the joy of life for project managers.  Learn to smile secretly at those frowned up faces as they recognize they are going to have to "bite the bullet" and fix your issue.

Furthermore, old issues should be managed and communicated as risks.  Not only are you tracking them as an issue but their age also warrants them to be put on the risk list providing further exposure to it and additional opportunities to escalate to garner resolution.

The bottom line is when issues are not resolved they are stumbling blocks for the individuals who have to accomplish the work.  Great leaders seek out and remove and/or minimize those stumbling blocks.  Poor leaders don't see, pretend not to see or make excuses about the stumbling blocks.  Choose to be great!!!

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