On a sticky note I have the following words written (with a little drawing) and pasted to the wall of my office: “Good will = strings attached”
My coworkers think it’s hilarious but they also acknowledge it’s brutal truth. I’m a project manager, and yes, my goodwill? It comes with strings attached. This is not a case of quid pro quo. This is not a bad thing. It’s just a fact.
The reality is that we are always balancing the triangle of scope, quality, resources. No project ever starts and finishes according to plan and this is because we don’t try or want to, it’s just that no plan has ever survived contact with Reality.
And what’s Reality? Try this: people leave departments and companies, policies and regulations change, processes change, budgets get adjusted, priorities change, etc.
The repeating phrase? Change, and that’s because Reality = Change. And when the parameters change, a project needs to change with it. How does a project need to change?
A project manager can say:
a) Listen, I recognize that getting this item in immediately is important to you, but that means my resources can’t work on something else. Can we delay these other items, perhaps even defer them to another release?
b) I’ll do the extra work – I see how this will help you out. This should be a change request but it will take more time to do the CR than to do the work. But I will keep track of it, so if all these little things add up…
c) Okay, we can reduce the bar here, but that means when I make a request on this next item, I need you to be flexible too.
Remember! my goodwill comes with strings attached. It’s how I keep things under control and the end result is good for both of us.