By Kevin Meyer
Most of us decry the sound bite nation – brief burps of information on the news that do nothing to inform the masses about complex situations. The oversimplifying breeds a lack of understanding.
What would happen if this was applied to project management? Of course the voluminous reports are overkill, and most of us have transitioned to A3s as a very effective took for condensing all information and status on a project. Could it go further… much further? Consider what Larry Page is doing in his new role as CEO at Google.
As Google Inc. co-founder Larry Page prepares to reclaim his role as chief executive on April 4, he has already taken steps to assume greater command of the Internet company.
Mr. Page's presence has been felt at Google's headquarters and through emails. About a month ago, he sent an email to product and engineering managers asking them to write to him about what they were working on in 60 words or less, said people familiar with the matter. Mr. Page said in the email that he wanted managers to "pitch" him on their projects, these people said.
Some managers believe Mr. Page will eliminate or downgrade projects he doesn't believe are worthwhile, freeing up employees to work on more important initiatives, these people said.
60 words. You could almost call it "project management by Twitter." Perhaps an effective way of learning what projects are being worked on, but hardly a good way to thoroughly evaluate projects. Maybe I should give Larry a break and assume that wasn't the intent.
Ensuring limited resources are deployed effectively is a good idea of course. Sort of like the government ensuring tax dollars are deployed effectively – uh oh wait, wasn't there something recently about all the overlapping programs? Except that Google can't just mandate more income or print more money. Sort of. Oh nevermind.
Larry Page is implementing a couple of other interesting ideas.
Mr. Page has also tried to facilitate better communication among top executives and give employees access to them. He recently mandated a "bullpen" session every afternoon, in which he and the company's executive officers sit and work on small couches outside a board room in Building 43 at Google's headquarters.
Hmmm… sort of a failed mutation between a stand up – errr sit down – meeting and "have the gemba come to them"? How about mandating that those execs actually go visit their operations – go to them gemba – or even better go to the other operations? Instead of sitting on couches with noses buried in laptops, how about standing and actually discussing something – or going to the gemba as a group?
So much opportunity, so little need to actually do it when you're… printing money. For now.