During one of the project status meetings, Rob told Uma, "Since we have a new customer, I am being assigned to another project, which is to establish business processes with the new customer. So I can't be available for the technical people if they need any clarifications immediately". Uma asked Rob about his time on the other project, and Rob replied that it involved a couple of full-time weeks. Sanjay said that could be a problem for his team since they are in the process of performing some critical project activities. Uma asked if Chris' team could handle being a first level of support to Sanjay's team if Rob explained the process to them. Rob and Chris agreed to it.
The team complained that some of the stakeholders were not available to view the results of unit testing. Uma wanted the team to be able to inform stakeholders in advance when they might need them, since she understands that they each also have functional responsibilities.
Most organizations will have multiple projects and many ongoing work activities occurring simultaneously. While some project team members will work primarily on one or a limited number of projects and have a limited number of ongoing responsibilities, others have many more varied responsibilities. Project leaders need to help everyone associated with the project balance the needs of trying to accomplish the project—sometimes in the face of severe difficulties—with the needs of other projects and other goals of the parent organization. This can be one of the more interesting paradoxes for project leaders since they are primarily responsible for accomplishing their projects, yet they need to be responsible members of their parent organization and keep the bigger picture in mind. Project leaders need to communicate both of these perspectives to the project team as often as needed.
To be successful at this balancing act, project leaders need to have the ability to:
See the big picture and understand corporate strategic needs
Analyze complex tradeoffs and understand their consequences, especially when multiple projects or multiple organizations are involved
Understand their projects at multiple levels—as part of the larger organization, as a system itself, and as a collection of parts
Make timely and sound decisions individually and facilitate groups such as project core teams and other stakeholders so they can also make timely and sound decisions
Identify "touchpoints" in advance and continually monitor them
Coordinate work, especially between their project and other work responsibilities, and understand how work assignments in one area impact other areas.
A Project Leader Needs to:
Accept that other important work of the organization needs to take place
Have the courage to continually push for successful completion of this project
Exercise the wisdom to resolve conflicts between other work and this project.