Education is the First Step in Reducing Project Failure
A project manager's job is to deliver value. Achieving the original schedule, budget, and features is meaningless if the customer does not receive value. As with all simple statements, this much easier said than accomplished. Projects managers must assemble adaptable teams that use flexible, lean methodologies. Arrogantly selling the latest technology or tool is narcissistic. Focus on the customer. Be vigilant at ensuring the information is always available for the customer to reassess the project's value and for the project team to reevaluate their proposal.
"I just want to be a project manager. I don't want all that responsibility." The room was silent, save a few exasperated sighs. We all looked around trying to figure out how we would handle the comment. However, there are many levels of project management maturity and only the highest levels require leadership. In fact, the prominent certification process—PMI's PMP®—has little to do with leadership until 2015. So where do we learn about leadership and how can we improve our leadership skills?
"Networking? I am just not good at that." I hear this time and again. With the recent financial issues in Europe, the line is repeated with a frequency reminiscent of 2009. So, it is time to pull out the pom-poms, put on the short skirt, and be the cheerleader chanting its virtues. For those of you that know me, the visual may be a little disturbing, but I conjure it up with your best interest in mind. The fact is, most of us dislike networking. After all, "work" is its middle name. It is, however, how people do business and find jobs. No argument, it is difficult to approach total strangers, publish an essay for the world to critique, or launch a tweet into the ether's unknown, being fully aware there is no way to delete a disgruntled individual's flame-o-gram on your dissertation. It takes guts to air ideas for others to appraise, "like," deride, or amplify. The best way to start, however, is to jump in and immerse yourself. An acquired talent, networking takes practice and it is more than face-to-face interactions.
Nothing starts your day worse than waking up to a CNN News crew on your front porch. That is what happened with Cover Oregon (Oregon’s failed HIX implementation). Now, with multiple lawsuits filed, only time will tell who the real losers are. One thing is for sure—there will be no winners. With all the contracts, audit reports, and court documents in the public domain there is no better time to learn.
The dearth of corporate leadership is stifling. Daily executives struggle with this reality. The challenge is creating the best learning environment for employees to debate situational leadership challenges. Too many times they are learning on-the-job and making costly mistakes leaving collateral damage in the workplace. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an environment where people could test their reactions to situations that have actually arisen and debate the appropriate resolution in a safe environment?
Few will disagree that sponsorship is critical to project success, yet how many times to you hear, “Our project sponsor is not engaged!” Our research shows that 80% of all PMs will tell you that engagement is the primary issue they face with the executive sponsor. Even more serious, when discussing the topic with executives, a very large majority will say that consistent, high-quality sponsorship is the number-one problem they see in executing initiatives successfully.
"Our Changes just don't stick!" That is the cry of too many executives exasperated by the waste of resources trying to get people in their organization to adopt new processes. A major portion of the reason is the lack of an organization change management (OCM) mentality in the organization. This is no more apparent than in the method in which initiatives and their constituent projects are executed. Lack of end-user involvement and adoption accountability are at the core of this failure.
Change is difficult. And, even if we can get people to change, will it stick? How about ropes, chains, whips, ropes, blindfolds, watermelons, and elastic bands in a fun G-rated presentation that get the audience on their feet and acting the roles that they may think is hindering them from change.
People often fail to realize how many actions in life are negotiation based. This is no different for in our work life. From managing projects to negotiating a raise, we do some form of negotiation daily. Implementing a process around negotiation is key in maximizing success. A process ensures collecting the correct information for preparing and proposing the new idea.