We dropped our youngest off at college today and are now officially “empty nesters.” The president of the college made a brief speech to the parents of the Class of ’12, reminding us that while we had delivered these young adults to the world, they (and we) are now at the point where they’re ready to take on lives separate and apart from us.
Which, of course, got me thinking about managing projects (OK, actually it was during the car ride home). As an executive, very often one initiates something that is fleshed out and executed by others. Like children, while these projects may start off being very dependent upon the person who brought them into the world, at some point they involve many other people who have a big influence on what they ultimately become. Even later, one often finds that the project has taken on a life very much of its own and it may or may not be what the initiator had in mind. That doesn’t make it bad, just different. The key, as an executive, and a parent, is to have the courage to let these ideas develop on their own. Make sure they don’t get off track, keep them out of financial trouble as best you can, but if the idea’s foundation is sound and you’ve entrusted it to good people (in business, your staff; in the real world, teachers) part of the fun is seeing how it develops.
I can’t wait to see how our little idea turns out after the next four year developmental cycle (and aren’t you glad people don’t speak management in the real world!). So far, so good!