Standing at the finish line, I was reminded of how much I enjoy watching running. The summer Olympics takes place this year, and as always, I’m looking forward to the track relay races the most. While the quad muscles are a spectacle in themselves, the handing off of the baton is what always draws me in. It takes place in half a second’s time, but it’s an exceedingly precise and calculated maneuver, and it carries high consequences. If you drop the baton, you lose the race.
For these races, the baton signifies a hand-off of responsibility. But the hand-off carries weight in itself. Drop it, and the next runner is set-up for failure.
In project management, there are many series of hand-offs, beginning with client project kick-offs (where the project is handed off to the team), to mechanical documents (where the design is handed off to the developers), to the final client package delivery.
Just like the Olympic racers, these critical hand-offs take practice and planned communication amongst the team. And just like the racers, the consequences of a failed hand-off are grave.