Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sacred PM Practices – Topics for Consideration

Traditional project management resources seem to address topics that do not necessarily support the successful execution of large IT projects.
  • Project Management Institute claims to be the world’s leading publisher of project management information. Its books, newsletters, training courses, and seminars focus on traditional concerns such as resource estimation, risk management, and scope management.
  • American Management Association’s books, seminars, and self-study materials focus on traditional project management activities – setting measurable project objectives, estimating project costs, and the use of a Work Breakdown Structure.
  • Software Engineering Institute strongly promotes the establishment of repeatable (i.e., standard, documented) processes for such areas as project planning, project tracking, and change management.

Project management resources do not adequately address the qualitative findings of this study.

  • There are many resources written about leadership. The resources however, tend to address military leadership and the leading of whole corporations.
  • There are few resources that address ownership. Some of the leadership books do include a sentence or a paragraph about why ownership is important to an organization.
  • There are extremely few project management resources that address trust among project stakeholders.

Do you also find this to be the situation? If so, why? Is it simply easier to describe how to create a work breakdown structure than it is to describe how to create an environment of engaged team members?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Managers Only do 4 Things

Sometimes my head spins with the many and varied duties of a manager. How can anyone be a competent manager in the face of so many skills needed? Must we be good at everything, or just the important things? How can we be confident that we know what the important things are? Do the important things change with time? It is like a nightmare.

Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman write, in the book First, Break All the Rules, that a manager only performs the following four tasks:

· Select the right people
· Set expectations
· Motivate the people
· Develop people

What are Buckingham and Coffman missing? Can everything a manager does fit into one of the four categories above? Where does conflict resolution fall? How does encourage/build teamwork fit?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Sacred PM Practices – Possible Explanation

It may seem reasonable that with strong leadership, ownership, and trust in place, there is less of a need for the standardization of project management procedures/activities (e.g., resource estimation, risk assessment, change management).

In contrast, there is a need for standard project management procedures in the absence of leadership, ownership, and trust.

This possible explanation implies that standard project management procedures serve as a substitute for project leadership, ownership, and trust.

Am I reaching here? Have I oversimplified the observations?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Hell hath no fury like the wrath of a band scorned?

One customer service statistic that I came across during school really sticks out in my mind -- only one in six dissatisfied customers will complain. What is the ratio of customers who devote their energy to publishing a music video to right a customer service wrong? One in ten thousand?

The Sons of Maxwell band members witnessed careless, or negligent, handling of their equipment by United Airlines baggage handlers. Unfortunately, after a year of requests, United could not compensate its customer for his destroyed guitar.

Enjoy the video. For those who have picked up damaged luggage after a flight, have empathy for the band. Reconsider your choice of airlines the next time you fly. This video on Youtube is about to hit 2 million views. I wonder if United executives are reconsidering how they handled this complaint.

The band promises to publish three videos about its experience on United Airlines. Two more videos are to follow.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sacred PM Practices – Unexpected Findings

Project Managers of successful large IT projects spend relatively little effort on activities declared important in project management literature, methodologies, and training seminars. Only two of the nine initial assumptions, dedicated project team and frequent interaction with stakeholders, passed the 80% bar (see posting on June 15, 2009).

These same project managers do focus on project leadership, build a sense of ownership, and cultivate trust among project stakeholders.

Why do you think that leadership, ownership, and trust are not prominent in literature, methodologies, and training seminars? I have been looking for these topics to be addressed for four years now. Only recently have I seen a couple of books and a seminar on Trust.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sacred PM Practices – Trust

Trust is the confidence one has that another will fulfill his obligation.

Many of the respondents shared their conviction that trust among individuals was crucial to the success of their projects. These respondents reported that there was trust among senior management, the project manager, the project team members, the business community, and users. Others, like Dr. Keith Mathis, have found the importance of creating an environment of trust. His posting can be found here on Project Smart.

One particularly interesting observation was that when there was trust in a project relationship, the relationship could sustain multiple mistakes (e.g., missed deadlines, budget overruns). These mistakes, of course, could batter the level of trust.

Has trust ever played into the success of any of your projects? Have you found the there is less documentation when there is a lot of trust?