In a previous article we asked, How Much Friction Does Your PMO Generate? The net of the article was that people come to your PMO because they want to transition from their current state to a different state. For example, from not having a project complete to having a project complete, from not having a report to having a report, or from not being trained to being trained. The easier it is to transition from one state to the next (aka low friction) the higher the chance that someone will want to work with you or continue to bring their business your way.
So, what are some ways you can reduce friction within your PMO?
You assume that your doctor knows what she’s doing when you visit. You tell her what’s ailing you and then she lets you figure out what to do to get better, right? Of course not. She listens to what’s wrong and prescribes a remedy based upon her experience.
You can do the same.
Colleagues, managers, or customers will come to you with what ails them. A project may be stalled, a process broken, or reporting is inadequate. If you know the best path for them to take based upon your experience… tell them. Sure, you can discuss options. But, if you know the one path, solution, or product that will help solve their problem the quickest, take out your prescription pad and write it up!
Take Them to the Answer
Think about a time you walked into a store and didn’t know where something was. You asked an employee and got one of two responses: a barely audible, “I think it’s in aisle seven or eight somewhere near the back” and a half-hearted gesture pointing in that direction; or, a “Follow me… I’ll take you to it” accompanied by a brisk walk right to the product you were looking for.
I’ll take the brisk walk over the half-hearted gesture any day.
The easier it is to transition from one state to the next (aka low friction) the higher the chance that someone will want to work with you or continue to bring their business your way.
You can do likewise. When someone asks a question, do you barely raise your head up, utter something unintelligible, and wave them off to find the answer on their own? Or do you take a moment and walk them to or connect them with someone who can help?
Don’t Make People Jump Through Hoops
Ever been to an Escape Room? They lock a group of people in a room with all the clues necessary to escape. One clue unlocks the next clue which unlocks the next, etc., until the final clue that reveals the location of the key.
It’s fun to be entertained this way, so you don't mind paying good money. It’s miserable when you are trying to unlock information to get your job done.
You can reduce friction here as well. Don’t be so precise that the knowledge seeker sitting in front of you has to know exactly which words to use and in which order to use them to unlock the information they need. Discern the spirit of what they are asking. They may not know exactly what to ask, but you can be forthcoming with information… even providing them with the coveted “you didn’t know to ask for this… but I’ll tell you this as well” information.
Being prescriptive, taking people to the answer, and not making them jump through hoops can apply if you are a project manager, manage the PMO, or run the entire company. Reduce the friction and increase the number of people that enjoy working with you!