by Jim Vaughan

Project Managers Should not Create Junk Yards

May 17, 2010
IT Leadership

How many parking lot items find their way into the plastic lined circular file?

How many meetings have you been at where the facilitator, for one reason or another, starts writing items on a list called “The Parking Lot.” This is a great practice to help keep a meeting on target. This is also a great practice to have these topics disappear forever. I have never seen one of these lists reappear at a future time.

Let’s start being honest with ourselves. Let’s call this list the junk yard. Those items that hit this list will rust away until they are completely forgotten. Isn’t this what happens to those items that are put into the parking lot anyway?

Obviously we must have a way to prioritize issues to keep meetings and projects on track. But the parking lot concept is one of the most abused processes I have ever seen. If it is going to be used then use it correctly. Create “a list” of items that require prioritization. Create a regular process where this list is reviewed and reprioritized. Many items will continue to remain toward the bottom of the list. Leave them there so that it is clear that these items have been discussed and prioritized.

Bottom line, don’t allow your parking lot to become a junk yard.