Posted by: kerrywills | November 1, 2013

Embracing My OCD: Follow Ups


Next up in the “embracing my OCD” series, I will discuss follow-ups. By definition, projects have many activities, milestones and deliverables which all have dates associated with them. Then we get action items, issues, risks and decisions which require dates as well. I spent a significant amount of time looking at these dates to make sure that things start on time and get completed on time. However, when someone misses a date my OCD kicks in and I am driven to follow up to see why it was missed and when it will be resolved.

To the person I am following up on, this may seem like a form of harassment or micro-management (I have been accused of both, as I suspect any solid Project Manager has). The interesting part of that accusation is that I am simply following up on a date that they told me they would complete. So I don’t see it as an issue of micro-management so much as an issue of expectations and commitment. If you told me it would be done Monday, and I am asking you now on Wednesday then you missed a commitment.

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There are several benefits of following up

  • Things don’t get lost. I find that sometimes if something isn’t on my list to be followed up on, it gets lost with all of the other activities
  • People know you are watching and expecting completion which creates a sense of urgency as well as setting realistic expectations
  • You get transparency into small misses which may be creating a trend for larger misses; this gives you time to take action

So, yes, I am neurotic about dates, commitments and expectations but I think this is the only way to deliver a project. I see projects like a game of basketball where you will by making all of the shots throughout the game and not just the last half-court shot to win the game.

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Responses

  1. […] Kerry Wills extols the simple virtues of following up on commitments. […]

  2. Absolutely spot on – if all PMs had your OCD I’m quite sure that we wouldn’t have the project failure rates that overshadow our profession. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Reblogged this on PM Advisor and commented:
    All PMs should have the “Follow Ups OCD”.


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