The name “Project Review” gives a “How NOT2” Project Manager every excuse to make it a monumental waste of people’s time. Okay, there are things to be gained from reviewing the past, but why not write those up (succinctly) and pass them round before the meeting? Unless the team has a time machine, not much can actually be done about it.
Why not rename the project review meeting a project preview meeting and do more looking forward than back? – the Agile crews have this one covered: very briefly report “what have I done, what am I doing, where are the blocks”……that’s it! Hours spent dragging over the past are mostly futile and boring. Summarise, learn, move on.
Metrics matter – “pretty much done, on track, progressing well, no issues” etc – there may be a thousand stock phrases people at your place use to avoid providing any form of actual information. Of course if the project hasn’t been set up to be measured accurately we deserve what we get. Baggy briefs with patchy plans will get untucked updates. Reports should be evidence based and hang off a meaningful measure or two.
Jive talkin – why tell the team “we are falling behind by one week” when you could wow them with something like “we’ve got friction on the critical path but the rubber’s hitting the road on the execution and we’re really getting traction with the sales synergies”? Of course we all hear this garbage all the time but at some point it apparently became OK. We dress the Emperor up in this meaningless gobbledegook and take turns admiring his threads. We’d love to know your most hated management phrases “going forward”. Can’t we go back to talking straight?
I reckon our “How NOT to run a Project Review” video would have to include:
- Start late, obviously
- No pre-work
- Lots of looking over our shoulder at the past
- Dataless updates
- A positive ocean of meaningless project jargon (I met a “Jeep Bonnet Review” team in a bank the other day!!??)
- Definitely no conclusion or actions
- Plenty of coffee and biscuits.
What about you? How futile have they managed to make these meetings in your neck of the woods?