Just Let it Rest
Seriously…I know someone who’s first thought on fixing electrical devices is to ‘just let it rest.’. What if Emmett the fix it guy on the Andy Griffith show in Mayberry fixed all of his customer’s appliances that way? Once his secret got out I think he’d be pretty much out of business since we can all try to just let that broken radio or toaster rest for awhile before using them again. Old Emmett would be out of business fast. And wouldn’t it be easy if just letting our computer rest would do the job. Windows machines would finally be worth owning again!
Ok, seriously though…while letting things rest actually can be of some benefit from time to time, we all know it’s not a good long term solution or a good plan of action for most sizeable or urgent issues. The best thing it might do is let an overheated motor cool down or it might let your head and nerves cool down so that you can go away, think calmly and come back with a good plan of action.
Applying it to the PM world
Now, let’s consider this concept from a project management perspective. How does ‘let it rest’ work in the project management world? I thought about this one for a while and it can actually work quite well in some circumstances, believe it or not. Of course, it will never work when absolute immediate action is needed. You know, those show stoppers that require a key decision to be made or action to be taken today – right now….or even yesterday – as the customer is breathing down your neck and the project is in peril. Threats to call your CEO can be overheard or maybe you’re already on the phone with your CEO. Certainly, this will not be the best time to test out the ‘let it rest’ concept.
But there are times when it may be your best course of action. Some of these instances might include:
Two lead team members are at odds over a preferred course of action. If you have two opinionated and experienced lead resources on your project conflicting over what the best course of action might be for a given issue, the let it rest concept may be a good way to go. If it doesn’t have to be solved today, letting it rest for a day or so may give way to calmer heads and better decision making.
Your project customer is frustrated with a change order you are proposing. Customers are inherently opposed to change orders. Change orders almost always mean they are going to be paying more for the project. So unless it’s something that they are specifically requesting to be done, then they are likely to push back. Let it rest for a day or two…let the customer sponsor go away and consider it. If you’ve provided the proper justification and it’s priced appropriately, they are likely to see things differently in the morning.
You feel overloaded with 6 projects and request to have one offloaded to another PM. Your PMO Director says that won’t work because everyone is overloaded and you just need to ‘suck it up’ and work through it. You’re confident that if you let it rest for a couple of days and revisit the topic with him that he’ll see the light, recognize you for the very valuable resource that you are and grant your request. WRONG! Who are we kidding? If everyone is busy you aren’t going to get special treatment so he will either say no again or you’ll be smart and not even ask for this in the first place. After all you don’t want to be thought of as the weak link.
That last concept was probably a fail, but you get the idea. There are going to be scenarios out there that we will encounter on our projects where just shelving the discussion for a day or two will give others time to consider and the end result will likely be more favorable. Sometimes you actually can just ‘let it rest’ for a while.