How many times have you been involved in a project and been surprised by a turn of events? “Where did that come from!?”
Many of us have looked out on a yard in the morning and spotted mushrooms that weren’t there the night before. “Wow!” we say, “they just appeared overnight.” Though absorbing moisture is a significant part of their fantastic “growth,” the mushroom was actually already there, but in a different and near invisible form. The mushroom is the fruiting body of the mycelium cells, which were growing for some time on the decaying material in your yard. All this activity was effectively invisible to you until conditions were right for the fruiting body to form.
The same happens in project work: the “mushroom” event is simply the visible, tangible effect from decisions and events that have been going on before. Cause and effect in project work are rarely close in time and space.
Remember, mushrooms are a lagging indicator of events that were going on before. When (I do not say ‘if’) you see a project mushroom, take the time to understand the earlier events that led to it. Identify leading indicators on critical early events.
Excerpted from Glenn’s book, The Unconventional Leader’s Guide to Project Oversight