Project Management: Explore The Idea of Doing Nothing Sometimes

In a recent article published on The Project Management Hut site, John Simko suggested that project managers should consider doing nothing. Unfortunately he’s not suggesting that I sit around pinning crochet projects or baked goods on Pinterest.  Instead, he’s talking about “making a conscious decision to not act.”

Simko suggests there are instances when, as a Project Manager, it makes more sense to do nothing than to do something. He talks about how it’s okay not to act on every risk. That sometimes planning for every potential risk means racking up cost, eating time, and monopolizing resources. Or how during meetings, you shouldn't always be correcting missed details of a meeting leader if the overall integrity is not impacted.

Simko feels the last part also branches off to where doing nothing is a result of choosing your battles. Sometimes a discussion about an idea or the direction of a project can slowly transform from constructive criticism to “agree to disagree” territory. That challenging an opinion every time in a meeting, just because, isn’t healthy. It’s about knowing when to jump in and why. If someone’s great idea is led astray, it’s okay to jump in and reinforce the point. Don’t just jump in to disagree all the time. And if you do find yourself in the latter part more often, try doing nothing every now and then and learn to pick your battles wisely.

Now, there have been times when I have “done nothing.”  But I wonder if I consciously chose to do nothing based on facts and calculations, or if it was because I ran out of time, or that I didn’t want to speak up, or because I simply forgot. This idea of consciously deciding not to do something adds a new (and important) element to project management that I intend to consider going forward.

Here’s why I agree that this idea is important: Choosing to “do nothing” is still making an educated choice.  And to make a choice I have to rethink my knee-jerk reaction and weigh the pros and cons.

Remember, doing nothing is not an excuse for missing deadlines or ignoring customer calls. For me, it’s a new way to evaluate my next options. It’s about optimizing my time and know when to step back from my to-do list.

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