In the grand theatre of the electronic Community Health Information System (eCHIS) national-scale implementations, which have over the last three months scaled across 14 out of the 135 districts in Uganda, the stage was set not only for brilliance but also for the peculiar dance of project management skills. Among the skills on show, was the subtle art of relationships and their careful management.
Enter the catastrophic realm of poor upward management, where project officers, armed with unsophistication, inadvertently navigate their manager’s influence tactlessly. Picture this: an officer carrying buckets of water not to douse fires but to appeal to the managerial deity purely out of self-interest —a classic case of workplace bootlicking to carry favour with the leadership – generally a disservice to manager and colleagues alike. This was an altogether common problem-solving strategy over the course of this work across organisations.
Amidst this, a dire consequence was recurrent, severely and often disrupting project teams’ alignment to project objectives, big and small. Imagine an instance where vital information is mishandled; unfiltered transmissions from managers, devoid of context or nuance, and the resultant knock-ons affecting multiple teams and their unique deliverables. Worse still, envision the selective hoarding of information, treated as a prized possession by certain individuals for paternalistic or power-hungry reasons.
The Consequence? Spectacular turmoil—multiple lost opportunities to build bridges on account of the culture of half-attempts or disingenuous teaming and coordination methods. Teams were very busy but often quietly disjointed and unproductive, not for the absence of skills, but consequently out of the absence of deliberate human empathy. In contrast, well-constructed bridges—crafted with care and finesse—serve as a beacon of light in the tempest of large scale and complex project work. Bridging becomes the cornerstone of leverage and efficiency for project leads and their officers, allowing for nuanced communication, contextual understanding for diverse audiences, and a harmonious flow of information and feedback.
Now, picture the aftermath: the eCHIS project wobbles precariously forward into a new year, its trajectory enveloping the undercurrent of disharmony and conflict. Insignificant for now. Yet, there is a lesson of great value —the importance of grooming relations with mutuality and empathy. Team dynamics ought to be deliberate because officers are not pieces of wood but sentient beings with vast experiences and varying skill sets. This fundamental approach transcends the whims and fancies of individual managerial idiosyncrasies and yet, fortifies teams against the turmoil of complex project objectives.
In conclusion, navigating the treacherous waters of large scale project work, particularly of national significance, demands a fine-tuned skill set—mastering relations and team orchestration, and most crucially, the intricate dance with leadership. By embracing this perpetual journey of improvement, we not only avert catastrophes but also lay the foundation for continual success— harmonious collaboration culminating in the realisation of collective goals. After all, in this grand play of projects and people, the key to lasting success lies in mastering the art of building synergies, not barriers.