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Accountability in Project Management: “They” Are Causing Problems
By Kerry Wills

No single raindrop believes it’s responsible for the flood…

One observation that I frequently make is the use of the word “they” during team meetings…

  • “They” missed their date
  • “They” didn’t do what we asked
  • “They” didn’t get back to us
  • “They” messed up the code
  • “They” don’t know what they’re doing

What I find interesting is the following groups that are labeled as “they”…

  • Offshore team
  • Other IT division
  • Infrastructure division
  • Business customers or sponsors
  • Vendor partners
  • Management

The irony is that all of these groups are part of the same project team (you know…. “us”?). People want to separate themselves into sub-groups to pass blame and shift accountability. These people don’t want to take ownership for their deliverables or the environment that they are working in and therefore look more for blame then for solutions.

Project Managers need to facilitate a “we” mentality and recognize that everyone is working towards a common project goal – usually to streamline costs or introduce new products which will compete in the marketplace (against the true “they” which is the competition).

“We” should not just be a word reserved for the French1!

1“We” sounds like “Oui” in French, which means “Yes”.

Kerry Wills is a proven Program Manager/Portfolio Manager with an extensive background in Project Management, consulting, and application development. Kerry has consistently demonstrated the ability to plan and implement large and complex projects on time and on/under budget. Kerry runs a blog, Adventures in Project Management.

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