Internet notebook about my work: deep listening to facilitate positive change


Monday, 1 October 2007

Input or output management?

Most biodiversity experts tend to manage their project on input, not output. That is why many conservation projects often run into difficulties. Input management is a style where the project manager concentrates on getting as much of the best available input into the project. Many of the meetings with team members are about the challenges, content and process. The project manager spends much time to advise team members how to prepare and carry out tasks. He oversees progress of the work on a daily or at least weekly basis. He is on top of the whole process from the details of GIS to the program of a stakeholder meeting.

Output management is a style where the project manager concentrates on getting the best possible results for the project. He makes sure the results are - right from the start - jointly defined with the key experts. Everyone in the team has to know what exactly the project should deliver. To delegate tasks the project manager invests in detailed briefings and checks if the employees understand what he asks of them. Then he expects them to be on their own and only report back when the task is finished or when they see a problem arising.

I learned that a focus on input for the best possible quality involves a high risk for the project to run into time or money problems. Even quality problems, as this style implies that only the team leader knows the right quality. For a consultant who is asked to solve the problems the project has run into, it means coaching the experts towards the right quality, within the available budget and time. If possible to coach them towards an overall output management style.

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