PM Lessons From “The King of Pop”
You don’t need to have the best plan; just have a better plan than the other side
Let me begin with a disclaimer: Whatever you might think about Michael Jackson, we all have to admit he was a talented entertainer, and just about everybody knew who he was. So, you’d have to figure that his funeral would be the ultimate, high-profile “project.”
As we watched the news, saw the spectacle, and heard the speculation, we knew the whole thing would have to be big, timely and larger than life. We also knew facts that were material to how the whole event would unfold. Let’s review them, and consider how they might relate to your own projects.
- There had to be a funeral/burial/memorial
- That event had time constraints
- Penalties could occur for not acting in time
- Lots of people were interested in the event
- Thousands of people wanted to attend
- The event could have been small or large, private or public (someone had to decide)
- There would be a cost for the event, because every event has some kind of cost
- Somebody would be responsible for paying that cost
Typically, on any project, somebody is in a hurry. In M.J.’s case, his family, friends and business associates were in the biggest hurry. Lots of people wanted to attend his service. Where would it be held, and when? Who is going to pick up the tab for whatever anybody and everybody wants? Nobody talked about it then. Nothing was decided. Let’s “party” today and talk business tomorrow. We need to do this, now. The price tag was seen, but ignored, and the event was allowed to begin anyway.
Nothing new here, Team. I think it was Aesop, a couple of thousand years ago, who wrote the fable about the ant and the grasshopper. You ought to read it for your PM education. Coach’s summary: the ants took care of business, while the grasshopper fiddled away his time. The ants counted the cost. Mr. Grasshopper didn’t. The ants made it thru winter. Mr. Grasshopper only made it until winter.
In the strange case of M.J.’s final “performance,” everybody wanted it to be immediate, big and lavish. Everybody figured somebody else would take care of the bill. But nobody wanted to pick up the check.
Have you ever seen this happen on one of your own projects? If you haven’t, you are new to the neighborhood. But welcome, anyway, because you are about to meet your neighbors. And, unlike the neighbors where you live, the neighbors where you work might not always seem so nice.
What we all saw played out on a grand scale at the ceremony for Michael Jackson (about $4 million, I’ve heard) applies to almost every construction project. Your GC/CM/project owner is in a hurry. He wants to get something different accomplished now, and he’d like you to take care of it for him. When this happens to you next time, ask yourself if you really want to make a donation. If you don’t, take steps to get out of the way immediately.
Remember: Have a written agreement outlining who is paying the bill for the latest change order, especially if it’s near your neighborhood.
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About the Author
Gary Micheloni is a working project manager, speaker, author, consultant and coach. He has severals years of industry experience, including a background as a licensed general engineering contractor. For further information and insight on the Full Contact Project Management approach, write Coach Gary at FullContactTeam@gmail.com.