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 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
I was teaching class last night and we had a very lively discussion about Resource Management. Here was the scenario..
- A Project Manager and a Line Manager meet to discuss getting a team resource for the project.
- The Project Manager doesn’t like the team member that the Line Manager is going to give him.
- The PM and LM get into a disagreement as this engineer has spouted off in front of the customer on past projects, causing a LOT of trouble.
- The upcoming project demands a lot of customer interaction.
- The Line Manager basically says too bad. He agrees to attend the PM’s meetings to ensure the engineer stays in line, but during the first few meetings, the LM is a no show.
- The engineer ends up calling the customer inept in a meeting, and the customer threatens to reevaluate the contract.
What could you have done as the PM to prevent this from happening?
Continue reading Out of Control Team Member – What would you do?
Are you struggling to break out as a Project Manager at your organization? Well, you’re not alone. If we think about the 80/20 rule, only 20% of the Project Managers out there are going to rise above the others. After teaching project managers, consulting at many organizations and just reflecting on my career, I’ve come up with five things you need to do to get that next promotion.
Continue reading Five Ways to Set Yourself Apart as a Project Manager
As a project management expert, I often get to see first hand how an organization measures their effectiveness in project management. I find it intriguing that so many of them, don’t really understand what they are trying to measure. They just look at their list of projects and if they all get done, then they are successful. If they don’t they are not successful. Many don’t measure it at all. Measuring project management effectiveness (PME) is important, but overlooked by many. What about your organization?
Continue reading Evaluating Your Organization’s Project Management Effectiveness (PME)
Statistically speaking, the 80/20 rule seems to apply to almost every situation. When it comes to your staff, it means that 20% of the people do 80% of the work. What would happen if we could somehow raise the level of performance of the 80%, just a bit? Or better yet, how can we move the bell curve to the right so that 40% of the people do 80% of the work? By moving the bell curve to the right, if the original 20% stay productive, and you increase the productivity of 25% of the rest of your staff, the amount of work that got done would have to go up. So, how do we go about accomplishing this?
Continue reading How To Get More Out of Your Project Managers and Your Team