Sunday, 07 August 2011 00:00

The US Congress Needs a Project Manager

Rate this item
(0 votes)

Picture Courtesy of the Christian Science Monitor

Walking onto any troubled project, guess what I hear? We are spending too much money, we cannot miss the due date, we need everything we are asking for, and it is "their" fault. My job is telling them the bad news—we need more money, we are cutting scope, and the project is still going to be late. Those are the unavoidable facts and the stakeholders need to accept them. Worse than that, I am not going to blame anyone. Blame is counterproductive. So, how does this compare to the situation with the United States Congress? In short, they do not get it. They need an apolitical, outside entity to build the recovery plan—just like we do anytime we are recovering any project.

Lack Of Leadership

The problem starts with the elephant in the room, a government devoid of leadership. Do not read political party into that statement. Leadership is simply missing, no qualifiers. I am certain congress must have a couple of people with leadership qualities; the Gang of Six comes to mind. But they are not the ones getting the press. Headlines are derived from rhetoric, arguments, and bombastic speeches rather than cooperation and compromise. Politicians need headlines to make constituents think they are doing something. The US went through weeks of proposals pushing agendas to use as fodder in future speeches for the next election. The minority and majority leaders of the House and the Senate were spineless, self-serving puppets to the next election, unable to stand up and admit the US needs to reduce scope and increase revenue. If this were my project, they would be the first to go in an attempt to get people working together.

Define The Scope

The next step is to make sure we are working on the right scope. In every bill we seem to have a new project charter—industry bailout, healthcare, budget, debt ceiling... oh, what about jobs? We need a vision and each project task needs to map to that vision. If the goal is to eliminated the deficit, balance our budget, help industry create jobs, and protect the American people from attacks (from terrorists and corporations) on their inalienable right for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness then every action must be directed that way. Granted, this is a pretty big plate. It is impossible to complete this project in a two or six year term. This is a multi-decade plan for which many of us will not live to see its completion. Yes, folks, twenty to thirty years followed by a maintenance plan—no more instant gratification and, yes, a lot of work. Our forefathers did not build this country engaging in the colonial equivalent of watching TV, eating Cheetos, and attending tailgate parties while wearing hats that resembled cheese wedges. Everyone pulled their weight and made sacrifice.

Work With The Stakeholders

Next, we need to talk to the stakeholders—the citizens of the United States, the leaders of foreign countries that want our financial and military assistance, and the countries that loan us money. All three need to sacrifice. Fewer services, higher expense, less profit. Stakeholders will need to suffice with cuts in what the government provides (from weapons and world policing, to farm subsidies and welfare), increases in the expense of services (raise taxes and international cooperation), and reduction in profit (lower interest rates). Will anyone be happy with this plan? Hardly, everyone will lose something. It is nothing more than applying the rule of triple constraints. Set a time lime, determine the financial needs in that time, and address the required budget by increasing revenue and decreasing scope.

The Current Dilemma

This seems to oversimplify a huge problem; however, it is the defined approach that is needed. Unless congress takes this simple objective approach—the process that has fixed hundreds of projects—they will not address the problem. Instead, they are embroiled in creating proposals to get headlines and garner votes from a small set of voters. They are stuck in an egotistical, aggrandizing, self-serving promotion forgetting about the country they serve. If it is true that less than 20% of the people in the US are opposed to a tax increase, why pander to them? Our congress is not beholden to the American people; they are shackled to the campaign donor. They are focused on what is good for the politician, not the stakeholders.

Standard and Poors

Just like any business with inadequate leadership, Standard and Poors appropriately dropped the S&P bond rating. They rightfully see no leadership, no cooperation, and, the coup de grâce, no one suggesting a plan to solve the problem. They look at it as I do when called in to bid a recovery job. I need one question answered, "Does the client really admit they have a problem to solve?" Without that realization the sacrifices will not be made. In Congress, we have one side blaming the other. They deliver ultimatums (i.e. we cannot increase revenue), not compromise. In other words, our "leaders" cannot make the sacrifices required to fix this problem, yet they expect everyone else to. They have turned into the best government money can buy.

On every job I take, I have one ace up my sleeve. If you do not like what I am telling you, fire me. I am not afraid to lose my job. Our congress men and women are afraid to lose their jobs. They are drunk on the beltway power. They need to revert to the basics and understand simple financial rules. Once they get that lesson, they need to learn how to lead and not be afraid to use it.

Read 35967 times

Related items

  • People vs Process Track Session/Keynote Example

    If you want educational keynote many of our presentations can be keynotes or track sessions. In the example below, the presentation People or Process: Which Impacts Project Success More? is given as a track session.  

    Example People vs Process keynote as a track session

    This session was given at the PMI Sioux Empire Professions Development Day help in Sioux Falls SD on September 9, 2014.

  • Webinar Topic Example

    Nearly any topic that Todd Williams writes about or speaks on, he can do a webinar. You can find some of his "uni-directional" webinars on ProjectManagement.com (see partial listing below) or you can have a fully interactive session as in the audio clip.  The limitations of the session are based on the tool used. In this example, the ZOOM meeting tool was used and it did not allow recording of the video. The session was recorded on May 29, 2019 at 12:30PM London time (4:30AM Pacific). There were about a dozen people online, about half of them had their video turned on, and the meeting organizer (Jonathan Norman) moderated the call. 

    What Example Webinar: Eliminating Blame Covers

    Here are three uni-directional webinar examples posted on ProjectManagement.com (these are free to PMI Members)

  • Transform Your Project Leadership: For Professionals Leading Projects or Company Initiatives

    Todd Williams contributed Chapter 7, "Leaders Listen." You can buy it on Amazon.

    More coming soon!

  • Filling Execution Gaps: How Executives and Project Managers Turn Corporate Strategy into Successful Projects
    What Filling Execution Gaps Covers

    Filling Execution Gaps

    by Todd C. Williams
    ISBN: 978-1-5015-0640-6
    De G Press (DeGruyter), September 2017

    Project alignment, executive sponsorship, change management, governance, leadership, and common understanding. These six business issues are topics of daily discussions between executives, middle management, and project managers; they are the pivotal problems plaguing transformational leadership. Any one of these six, when improperly addressed, will hex a project's chances for success. And, they do—daily—destroying the ability companies to turn vision into value.

    Check it out on Amazon or the Filling Execution Gaps website

    Without the foundation of a common understanding of goals and core concepts, such as value being critical to success, communication stops and projects fail.

    Without change management, users fail to adopt project deliverables, value is lost, and projects fail.

    Without maintaining alignment between corporate goals and projects, projects miss their value targets and projects fail.

    Without an engaged executive sponsor, scope increases, goals drift, chaos reigns, value is lost, and projects fail.

    Without enough governance, critical connections are not made, steps are ignored, value is overlooked, and projects fail.

    Too much governance slows progress, companies cannot respond to business pressures, value drowns in bureaucracy, and projects fail.

    Without strong leadership defining the vision and value, goals are not set, essential relationships do not form, teams do not develop, essential decisions are not made, and projects fail.

  • Filling Execution Gaps: Building Success-Focused Organizations

    Executives define vision, strategy, and goals to advance the business. Projects enable companies to meet those goals. Between strategy and projects, there is a lot of work to be done—work that lays the foundation for project and operational success. Through experience and research, six common gaps exist in organizations that inhibit project success—an absence of common understanding, disengaged executive sponsors, misalignment with goals, poor change management, ineffective governance, and lackluster leadership.

Leave a comment

Filling Execution Gaps

Available Worldwide

Filling Exectution Gaps cover

Filling Execution Gaps is available worldwide. Below are some options.

 

PG DirectLogo
Limited Time Price $20.99
Amazon logo
Book or Kindle
Flag of the United States Canadian Flag Flag of the United Kingdom Irish Flag Deutsche Flagge
Drapeau Français Bandiera Italiana PRC flag
Japanese flag
Bandera de España
Flag of India
Bandera de México
Bandeira do Brasil
Flag of Australia
Vlag van Nederland
DeG Press Logo
Barnes and Noble Logo
Books a Million Logo
Booktopia Logo
Worldwide: Many other
book sellers worldwide.

Rescue The Problem Project

Internationally acclaimed

Image of RPP

For a signed and personalized copy in the US visit the our eCommerce website.

Amazon logo
Buy it in the United States Buy it in Canada Buy it in the United Kingdom
Buy it in Ireland Buy it in Germany Buy it in France
Buy it in Italy Buy it in the PRC
Buy it in Japan
Book sellers worldwide.

Upcoming Events

Other's References

More Info on Project Recovery

Tell me More!

Please send me more information
on fixing a failing project.

Sitemap