One quick way to gauge the health of an organization or a project is to ask, “Who’s in charge?” The answer will likely be illuminating. Projects need authority to function well.

There must be a person who can be the referee, a person who can settle disputes; a person who can be trusted at all times to know where the project is in relation to the ultimate goal.  This person KNOWS the ultimate goal!  This person also, if you’re on a good project, will have written the ultimate goal down, in great detail, in a REQUIREMENTS document.

Simple right? It is simple, but it’s not that easy.  There are some problems that come with being the boss. Being in charge is not always awesome. Sometimes you have to make a decision and own the results. Sometimes you have to explain why things are not going well, and sometimes you have to be the boss. Again, it’s not always all that much fun. Human nature rears its head at this point. If it’s not fun, one way to avoid the discomfort is to not do the hard work. Don’t be the boss. Delegate all authority, disperse tasks.  Create a situation where no decision can be made without a committee. Then, if the committee makes a bad decision, they’re to blame – not you. Sounds perfect, right?

Perfect except for the fact that committees don’t make decisions quickly and the project will bog down waiting for orders. The boss doesn’t have to know how to do everything, and we certainly don’t want  them doing everything. This is not a call for micromanagement – it’s a call for management.

When no one’s in charge – and we mean REALLY in charge – not a figurehead, the project is guaranteed to go over budget.