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Chaos Creator?

A number of go-getter upper middle managers within my employer’s mgmt structure participated recently in an excellent round table on the subject of rescuing at-risk programs.

When an audience member asked about what qualities might be common for leaders who excel at pulling rabbits out of deeply-troubled hats, one manager in particular discussed, oddly enough, the quality of being someone who is willing to create a little bit of chaos. Being willing to question the current methods, not being satisfied, not being afraid of pissing people off….

All of this I totally agree with, but on the other hand, I’m also a rigorous advocate of “enlightened process,” and will vehemently argue that most programs that “go red” do so because they fell off the process wagon – they forgot the basics of “blocking and tackling.”

I suspect most “process documentation” was done by smart people who put hard thought and energy into making smart road maps for value-stream efforts to follow. But rarely, it seems, do these program efforts appreciate the golden eggs laid by these geese.

I am the last to advocate blind adherence to process. Rather, I advocate knowing WHY the processes are what they are — and to make a conscious decision to forgo following them for sound reasons — before the program train steers off the plantation after which our over-confident program leader hopes/expects that the “magic management cattle prod” will fix his/her cost and schedule woes.

A bit of a paradox…. it’s helpful to be a chaos creator / excrement disturber if you are to be successful at rescuing troubled programs, but most often, the trouble came from not utilizing the system the way it was designed!

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