Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Reality Check from (our version of) Bob the Builder

I am proud to say that my daughters are not only into princesses, fairies, and everything pink and sparkly. They are also fans of the stereotypically "boyish" characters, like Spongebob Squarepants, Thomas the Tank Engine, and Bob the Builder. I've found that there are some good lessons in project management that can be learned from the Bob the Builder that we all know, and the tweaks that our family has made to his routine.

Here is the description from the website:

Bob the Builder and his machine team are ready to tackle any project. As they hammer out the solutions that lead to a job well done, Bob and the Can-Do Crew demonstrate the power of positive-thinking, problem-solving, teamwork and follow-through. Most importantly, from start to finish, the team always shows that The Fun Is In Getting It Done!

What project manager wouldn't love all of this? I mean, it sounds like the perfect project, doesn't it?! Well, as anyone who's seen one all the way through knows, not all projects go that perfectly.

So, Bob the Builder has this great catchy theme song that my (almost) 3 year old loves to walk around singing, title of the song is "Can We Fix It?". The words repeated throughout the song are "Can we fix it? Yes, we can!" It's inspiring and very cute, I encourage everyone to check out the video. So, we decided to mess with our 3 year old a bit and change the lyrics, but really we just wanted to teach her an important lesson in project management (obviously ;). Our version of the song is:

"Can we fix it? No we can't!", or "Can we fix it? Maybe tomorrow!"

Don't get me wrong, I'm all about being a positive thinker and having a good attitude about getting the work done. But, I also believe in being a realist and have learned lessons the hard way about the importance of being honest about the status and condition of a project. If something is going to be late, make sure people know it or make sure there is a plan to adjust scope so that the critical deliverables can still be completed on time. If something just isn't possible, make sure to raise the flag as soon as possible. Better to get the information out early than stay quiet on it or mask the problems, only to have a more serious blowup at the end.

So, I hope that my daughters learn positive thinking and the power of teamwork from Bob, but I also want to make sure they get the extra lesson in realistic thinking and honesty from their parents!

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