Do you like Project Robots?

You just buried your mom and returned from the funeral. You’re a Project Manager on a high profile project for one of the largest tech companies in the world.  It has only been one day since the funeral and you are still raw with emotion.  Now imagine that you get an email informing you that you are not getting a break from the loss of your mom, but in fact, your workload has been increased.  How about a spouse fighting cancer?  Need a little time?  No!  Instead, how about an increased workload?  Sound crazy? Well, imagine no more…these are true stories.  This brings me to an important point.
In talking with a friend of mine with 26+ years of project management experience about Agile vs. Waterfall methods, he said, “You can have all the methods and processes you want but it all comes down to personal relationships and human intervention”.  This gentleman was responsible for one of the largest SAP installations in US history. I was taken aback by the simple answer when he stated another simple cliché, “Take care of your team and your team will take care of you”, which means that they will take care of the project.
The examples given in the beginning of this blog are not meant to say that we shouldn’t be tough or suck it up.  However, besides being in my opinion morally wrong, it is flat bad for business.  Is the man whom just buried his wife still ready to climb that mountain for the team?  Or, is he waiting for the first chance to jump ship?
All too often we pay lip service to our employees, “Let me know if you need any more resources”, while completely ignoring the realities of life.
I guess the bottom line is we can keep on pushing the machine, but what happens when the machine navigator gets ran over?  Does the machine keep going and if so, who is driving…a robot?
Make sure when you ask someone if they need help that you don’t ignore the reality that is staring you right in the face — unless you like robots.

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