PM#6 – You were right and I was wrong

If you make a mistake, I’d like to think you would be man enough to admit it.

The trouble is, and I’ve seen this in so many places, there are a lot of folks out there who seem to be unable to admit that they made a mistake. I’m sure that we’re all guilty of covering up a the odd faux pas here and there, but there are folks out there who take the cover up to new [stellar] levels. These stellar levels include such things as poor decisions or incorrect decisions (more here) and choices that have led to projects going off on a tangent for months on end all because of parochial approaches that prevent acceptance of the bigger picture (i.e. focusing on one small part of the project without understanding the project as a whole).

Saving face is not all that important, doing the right thing is. In a project-based environment, saving face for long periods is detrimental [to the project]. When driving, if you accidentally take a left instead of a right, you will endeavour to correct the mistake as soon as possible…you shrug your shoulders and get on with the course correction. Please take this analogy to your current and future projects: if you make a mistake, your cheeks go red, you blush, whatever, please raise your hand and announce your mistake. Team members will thank you for it, the project will run smoother and will stand “one more” chance of coming in on time and/or on budget.

Whatever you do, don’t try to ignore the mistake, cover it up or keep running with the mistake as if it were normality. And accept that team members might point out the mistake and ask you to do something about it: don’t fob them off with pithy excuses whilst you insist that you are right and they are wrong. Project rarely have “get out of jail free” cards, if you think you’ve got one please be aware that the card expires very very quickly after use: expect to be found out. Long running cover ups or long running changes in direction are catastrophic for the project and the team member morale. Do not think of yourself, think of the project and the team members (learn from what Derek Laud had to say about a lack of selfishness) – it’s not your project, it belongs to the team and the end users.

Don’t ever be afraid to say: “you were right and I was wrong”, it’s the best thing for you, the project and the team members. And say it as early as possible (mistakes and oversights are typically cheaper to fix earlier in a project).

In this series:
PM#11 – Management By Shouting Loudest (MSBL)
PM#10 – The truth is best…admit it…
PM#9 – Avoid duplication of effort
PM#8 – Multi-tasking is evil
PM#7 – High workload means lower productivity…
PM#6 – You were right and I was wrong
PM#5 – Whose schedule is it anyway?
PM#4 – Start it…finish it
PM#3 – Use e-mail properly
PM#2 – Focus on the project
PM#1 – decision making