Thursday, March 19, 2009

Management’s Biggest Problem Today

What is the most common way to bring ruin to a project, a business (Enron, Bernie Madoff’s Ascot Partners), a nation? What, since the beginning of human history, has brought on self-destruction?

Lack of personal integrity.

Every major religion and many historical figures comment on maintaining personal integrity.
  • Christianity - The Lord abhors dishonest scales
  • Judaism – Thou shalt not bear false witness
  • Islam - Thou shalt not raise a false report
  • Buddhism -I will honor honesty and truth, I will not deceive
  • William Shakespeare -- No legacy is so rich as honesty
  • Ben Franklin – Honesty is the best policy
  • Thomas Jefferson -- Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom
  • Your mother – _______ (fill in the blank)
No matter where I go in the business world, I am a witness to lying, deceit or both. How often have you seen some one lie to buy time? How often has a lie only deferred the pain? How many unnecessary lies have you witnessed?

I have never found a lying leadership to be inspiring. Personally, it is difficult for me to work with those who lie so easily. Timothy Barry, in Project Smart, lists integrity as one of the top qualities of being a project manager.

And what is the rationale given for a lie in the business world? It is the way businesses work. Everybody does it. How about the comment, “If we don’t lie, another company is just going to lie and win the work?”

Are we to just accept it? How are we to protect ourselves, our projects, and our business?

Management’s biggest problem today is that of all times -- To deceive others, or oneself.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sacred PM Practices -- Lessons Learned

The final assumption that I tested in my project management research project (introduced in a Jan 25, 2009 posting), was a project’s collection and use of lessons learned. I wondered whether a difference between project success and project failure might be that a successful organization might learn from its own successes and failures.


  • The majority of the projects were successful without conducting such meetings.
  • Of the 56% of the projects that did not conduct such a meeting, nearly all of the respondents reported that such an activity should have been performed.

My experience with lessons learned is limited to a one-time meeting at the end of the project, where what is discussed (i.e., lessons) is largely or entirely ignored the next time around. When have you send lessons learned used? Has it made a difference?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sacred PM Practices - Change Management

Projects, large and small, must respond to a constant bombardment of proposed changes from customers, upper management, the business, the market, and perhaps even the federal government (e.g., regulatory changes). For a project to be successful, it must formally manage these changes. Or so I thought.


  • The majority of projects (56%) were successful without formal change management procedures (e.g., documented procedures, forms to be completed, consensus approval).
  • Of the 44% that reported formal change management activities, many project managers reported that the formality was absolutely critical to the success of the project.

I have rarely witnessed formal change management. I have often seen formal change management implemented, but rarely executed. There are forms, procedures, a change control board for those organizations very serious about change. From my viewpoint most of the time, the forms are not completed, the procedure description collects dust, and the change control board meets infrequently. Yet, some projects are successful.

Have you seen/lived formal change? Has it meant the difference between project success and project failure?

Introduced in a Jan 25, 2009 posting, this research project studied the project characteristics of large, successful IT projects.