The discipline to apply the Lean mindset must be everywhere. Last saturday I got myself into a class where we were discussing project management tools and concerns, focusing on risks.
The Lean scenario
We had this construction project as example. Almost everybody was stating that the project could be consider successful if we deliver it inside the defined scope, schedule, cost and quality planned (as PMI states for years). It is very subjective, because it will lay on the understanding of success each one has. If your goal is just to make a check on your checklist, keep that above. But let’s explore an exception.
Consider yourself as the project manager. The point here is: if during this construction a plumb is broken and your project release toxic wastes in a nearby river? It would cause an environmental damage at least. Naturally fixing the plumb turns inside your project scope. But it’s not the same for all of the rest. It’s not your responsibility to create a workaround to fix the damages to the environment (seeding trees, cleaning the river, etc), neither to care about your company’s image regarding media and the society (marketing advertising, taking water to the affected communities, etc).
To explore that we started discussing if you, as a project manager should tell your organization’s owners about what happened and the subject got into the MCSW tool to help evaluating.
Making a break, we argued about the MSCW tool when we were defining the risks also. It is a tool to classify the importance of the item you are handling. M stands for MUST, S stands for SHOULD, C stands for COULD and W for would. Clearly there’s not a Lean mindset applied to this tool. It should be just DO, and DON’T. It’s yes or no. You must or must not do something about a requirement, or a risk, or a situation. Discussing about the points in the middle will be waste of time.
The good will thought
Getting back to the plumb. It SHOULD be your concern, as a good project manager to tell, and I suggest, to help planning something to fix the environmental problem and your company’s brand’s image. The project management bible tells you shouldn’t get involved unless it turns your project scope. And here we have a difference between entrepeneurs and people who just work.
But for many times, the complete support to the organization needs may conflict with the Lean mindset. In this case, telling the problem to people is Lean. But getting involved in the resolution is not, unless it is added to your scope. This is the time when the entrepeneur has to have maturity to let the problem be treated by other people and get distance to focus in its real challenges. Otherwise getting involved in unplanned activities, will be faced as micro managing.
Keeping knowledge and good intention close to you
One important thing to explore after this fact occurs is the learned lessons here. Forget about creating a document, writing many pages of FCA (fact, cause, action) analysis, and throwing it to the repository. The most important thing is to make sure the right people understood what happened and what it caused. Because of that plumb broken, our stocks dropped 20% in six months, and that affect the employees there in the edge because we will loose many projects for our competitors due to uncertainty about our service quality. It may cause people leaving the company and knowledge being lost.
The most important thing after this things happen is to keep this kwowledge. For sure you, as the project manager, won’t ever again be discplicent about the soil analysis and researches because you will be concerned with environmental impacts. It’s a chain and everything is connected. From the very beginning, the environmental problem, to the labor force working there.