Managing collaboration with professionals scattered all around, this is what detailed schedules are meant to help with. Heavy but powerful tool. Drawback: schedule updates are energy-consuming. Cost / benefit ?
In some cases—which ones? depending on what settings?—detailed schedules can hinder progress. The project manager glued to their computer may abandon the field. Self-deprived of the means of their proactivity, they come to consider actuals as mere variances with planned values. Their main concern has become: keep documents up to date—this is achievable, whereas putting the project back on tracks may no longer. The vicious circle is not far away.
In these cases—let me repeat: which ones? depending on what settings?—, specifically, I’d like to propose we plan up to the decomposition of work (I mean, deliverable-oriented) and refrain from defining activities beyond the coming week / two weeks. Finally, each employee has this simple question in mind: what is my next thing to do? Not quite "where do I fit in the sequence of all activities?".
Advantages to stick to the deliverable-oriented structured breakdown of the work? I’m leaving to the employee care to discern the activities to achieve the deliverable they are responsible for and I trust them to organize their collaborative network. I’m focusing my attention on concrete achievements, delivered or to be delivered, which helps measure the project progress objectively. I’m investing my energy on deliverables which I am to understand, not on activities about which I am technically incompetent. I’m stopping the breakdown of the work at the detail relevant to me, I’m delegating to employees whose expertise and autonomy I respect.
Benefit to stick to the structured breakdown of work? I may invest time saved on schedule updates back to clearing away the obstacles in the way of employees, they will acknowledge their responsibility, the project progresses, people are happy.
The underlying hypothesis / beliefs are : the project team are committed, people are skilled, people are eager to work (theory « X »). Less time screwded at the computer, everyone has more energy to devote to people and deliverables. The virtuous circle rolls on.
Next step: let’s revise our structured decomposition of work, as it is today: how could we make it more suitable to delegation to autonomous people? Why not ask our peers ?