Sorting Out The Project

ment would be to develop a method of measuring the density of the image at every point on the X ray and to represent this measurement as a numerical input for the computer. This is the first level of the project's action plan.

Responsibility for accomplishing the first level tasks is delegated to the project team members who are asked to develop their own action plans for each of the first level tasks. These are the second level action plans. The individual tasks listed in the second level plans are then divided further into third level action plans detailing how each second level task will be accomplished. The process continues until the lowest level tasks are perceived as "units" or "packages" of work.

Early in this section, we advised the planner to keep all items in an action plan at the same level of "generality" or detail. One reason for this is now evident. The tasks at any level of the action plan are usually monitored and controlled by the level just above. If senior managers attempt to monitor and control the highly detailed work packages several levels down, we have a classic case of micromanage-ment. Another reason for keeping all items in an action plan at the same level of detail is that planners have an unfortunate tendency to plan in great detail all activities they understand well, and to be dreadfully vague in planning activities they do not understand well. The result is that the detailed parts of the plan are apt to be carried out and the vague parts of the plan are apt to be given short shrift.

In practice, this process is iterative. Members of the project team who are assigned responsibility for working out a second, third, or lower-level action plan generate a tentative list of tasks, resource requirements, task durations, predecessors, etc., and bring it to the delegator for discussion, amendment, and approval. This may require several amendments and take several meetings before agreement is reached. The result is that delegator and delegatee both have the same idea about what is to be done, when, and at what cost. Not uncommonly, the individuals and groups that make commitments during the process of developing the action plan actually sign-off on their commitments. The whole process involves negotiation and will be further developed in the chapters to follow. Of course, like any managers, delegators can micromanage their delegatees, but micromanagement cannot be mistaken for negotiation—especially by the delegatee.

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