The Broken Window Theory comes from police work. If a window is broken in a neighborhood, the Broken Window Theory compels owners to fix it quickly and, therefore, dispel the message that the neighborhood is an easy mark for burglars or vandals. Similarly, when this theory is practiced, graffiti is quickly removed and litter is immediately cleaned up, so as not to invite graffiti and littering.
Think about implementing the Broken Window Theory during your next project planning effort. Experience suggests that application of the theory advances project success.
For example, if early in a project you ask a team member for a written monthly project report, and you do not receive what you wanted when you wanted it, immediately and politely insist that it be done. College football coach Vince Dooley put it this way: "Keep the rules to a minimum and enforce the ones you have."
Use the same approach with those you serve. As an example, assume that early in a project, your client promises to provide some information by a certain date and failures to do so. Immediately contact him or her and diplomatically determine the status of the information.
The precedent two example applications of the Broken Window Theory illustrate how it can establish a high expectations atmosphere within your project. Of course, as project manager, you must exemplify those high expectations by consistently doing what you say you will do.
In the spirit of nipping behavioral problems in the bud, music critic Harold Schonberg offers this advice which is applicable to you as a manager of a project, or a portion of a project. "Anybody who gets away with something will come back to get away with a little bit more."
Therefore, as difficult as it may initially be, you as project manager should deal quickly and consistently with inappropriate or difficult behavior. Recognize that:
o Essentially everyone on your team knows about out-of-bounds or inappropriate behavior, and
o Usually everyone on your team will know what you did, or did not do, about it. Your credibility is on the line.
Do what the police do, fix it quickly.
Source by Stu Walesh