Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Some Simple Lessons in Project Management, from Edward of Sir Topham Hatt's Railway

We watched a lot of Thomas & Friends over the holiday weekend (yes, with my, that joke never gets old). Since I don't watch the show regularly (not kidding here) I was surprised to learn about how many different trains there were. I always heard about 'Thomas the Train" and didn't hear much about his other friends. Anyway, one of the episodes featured Edward, who had to take over Percy's mail route because Percy was getting repaired. Edward didn't want to ask about how Percy delivered the mail, he assumed someone would tell him or he would figure it out.

As he started on the route, he had three deliveries to make. He guessed his way through and got all three deliveries wrong. When he got to the end of the route, he was told that the deliveries were wrong and he had to go back and bring all of the packages to the correct places. At this point he's running out of time, so he rushes through the pickup and drop-off, and ends up losing & breaking packages. By the end of the day he's very frustrated and the other engines are disappointed in him.

So the lessons learned here are pretty simple...

  1. Never assume that you completely understand the task at hand. It might seem simple at first, but once you're in the thick of it, questions might come up that you won't be prepared to answer unless you have a full understanding of the task.
  2. Don't be afraid (or too proud) to ask for help. This doesn't just happen to trains, people will sometimes have pride issues, too. Better to ask what might seem like a stupid question now than look even more foolish later.
  3. Rushing doesn't pay! What you gain in time you lose in quality.

Do you have any Edward trains on your project teams? Better make sure they watch this episode!

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