If you’ve ever had to staff a project with a Project Manager, you’ve probably run into the same problem that seems to plague the industry. How do you know what you’re really getting when you hire someone? Almost all Project Managers these days are either certified by PMP, Prince or are a Certified Scrum Master. Some may have certificates from a college or university, and some some have Master’s Degrees in Project Management. Yet, there is a huge performance gap in project managers. How can we close this gap?
Continue reading What to Do About Project Manager Competency?
If you’ve been managing projects for a while, you know there are many ways to manage them. While that may seem intuitive to many of you, there are less seasoned “professionals” who think that there is just one way to manage projects and that would be “by the numbers”. When I interview someone for a Senior Project Manager position, nothing gets me to a thumbs down quicker, than someone who thinks project management is all about process. Don’t get me wrong, process is important, in fact very important, but someone who thinks that it is the panacea to managing projects is showing their lack of maturity as a project manager.
Continue reading Project Management by the Numbers – A Recipe For Disaster
A lot of people ask me what does a Project Manager do? If you think most of those asking the question are unfamiliar with project management, you’d be wrong! I’ve had C-Suite execs, middle managers and those thinking about entering the profession ask me that question. While most of you PMI trained PMs think the answer is pretty straight-foward, the truth is a lot more complicated. Do you think you know the answer?
Continue reading Do You Know What a Project Manager Does?
I taught an introductory class in Project Management last month and we got into discussion about motivating team members. I mentioned that I take every opportunity I have to recognize people for their work. I was surprised at the reaction of the class. They were evenly split into two camps. Half agreed with me. The other half thought people should be rewarded only when they do something extraordinary and should not be recognized for just doing their job. There are obviously merits to both approaches. What are your thoughts?
Continue reading How to Motivate Your Team Members
The Standish Institute has been publishing the Chaos Report for years which basically says that project outcomes fall short despite our best efforts to manage it. Proponents of PMI and Prince2 will debate their conclusions, and there are others out there who say that Agile is the answer to better project outcomes. While I’m a advocate of project management methodologies, perhaps we’re looking in the wrong place and the answer lies somewhere else.
When you think about life, one of the life’s truisms is that “stuff” happens. That whatever you plan for will likely not come out exactly the way you want it to. For those of you not familiar with the Butterfly Effect, it was developed by Edward Lorenz who is a big proponent of the Chaos Theory. The term comes from the suggestion that the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in South America could affect the weather somewhere else in the world. Basically it is a term used to describe how small changes to a seemingly insignificant thing can affect large, complex systems. When we think about projects, there are so many things that could impact the success of a project that fall outside the general framework of project management. Perhaps successful project outcomes don’t depend upon your methodology, but on how you react to what happens?
Continue reading Rethinking Project Management and Chaos (The Butterfly Effect)
After managing projects for over 20 years, I’m still waiting for project management to meet the expectation that it will help businesses be more productive, efficient and cost effective. While it helps in many cases, it still falls short in many areas. The Standish Group’s Chaos Report has repeatedly shown that far too many projects are failing, despite the best efforts of project management. To be fair, not everyone agrees with the Standish Group. While not an easy read, you will find Samad Aidane’s article, The Chaos Report Mythbusters a pretty thought provoking critique of the Chaos Report. Based on my experiences though, it is easy to conclude that project management practices could be improved. I don’t think you will find anyone that would deny that there are many pitfalls associated with project management and that in many cases, it still hasn’t lived up to its expectations.
Continue reading Project Management – Why it still doesn’t meet expectations
In mentoring other project managers, I noticed there is a distinct trait that distinguishes those that are successful, and those that struggle in managing their projects. That trait is what I’ll call the ability to drive versus the ability to manage. Are you a project manager or a project driver?
Continue reading Are You A Project Manager or A Project Driver
I am amazed at the different perspectives that executives have about project managers (PMs). I recently heard an executive say that a good PM can manage any project. Do you agree? I used to think this was true but now realize that the answer, “it depends”, is more appropriate. When I was younger, a lot younger, I thought I could do anything. Give me a project and I’ll run it! Well, now as an experienced PM, I believe in just the opposite. A good PM can’t manage any project. Why is this important? Consider that organizations bring in consultants as PMs, often without experience in their industry, or their company. This is a recipe for disaster if not handled correctly.
Continue reading Is a Project Manager just a bean counter?
I cringe every time I hear of a government run IT project gone bad. I watch in amazement as project after project, especially in the IT arena, goes down the tubes when run by the government. I’m not talking about IT Infrastructure, things like servers or networks but about true software development. Over my career in Project Management, I’ve worked on many government projects and also been around many others who have… and it is very easy to see why they fail, and yet the trend continues despite many studies and hundreds of millions of dollars spent to fix the problem. The problem is not project management, it is the politicians. The Affordable Care Act is just another example of why politicians shouldn’t run IT projects.
Continue reading Why Politicians Shouldn’t Manage Projects – Affordable Care Act Lessons Learned
While mentoring Project Managers over the years, I’ve noticed both the good and the bad. What are the top 5 mistakes Project Managers make? Well, we’re all different, but here are five sure ways to get shown the door both as a consultant and as an employee.
Continue reading Top 5 Mistakes Project Managers Make… and how to avoid them