Provocative thinking from the field.
A leader's values set the tone for the team. In the case of Volkswagen’s emission scandal, the CEO’s long-stated goal of besting a competitor had nothing to do with adding value for customers. Accordingly, a culture emerged to circumvent challenges rather than solve them.
Have we got the formal definition of a project completely right? A finite start and finish, sure. But approaching each project as a “unique endeavor” can lead us to overlook opportunities to capture, reuse and benefit from prior knowledge, experiences and lessons learned. We need to better connect our closing phases with upfront planning.
The prevailing project management paradigm still emphasizes context-free processes and practices, rather than tailoring them to the unique context of each project. Alas, clinging to “one best way” is often counterproductive, as intelligent bees and systematic teams often discover at their own peril.
It is no longer a question of if organizations should embrace mobility, but when. Mobile solutions offer project, program and portfolio managers unprecedented access to essential information that has a direct impact on high-stakes decision-making and communication. Those who overcome resistance and address concerns will lead the pack in innovation, opportunity and growth.
Wouldn't it be better if scheduling tools focused on deliverables rather than the work — the activities and tasks — needed to deliver them? Execution is about creating value, and stakeholders care little about the busy details. Project managers who get this distinction right will reap the benefits of more realistic and achievable plans.
Most large organizations have established project, program or portfolio management offices, but there is a disconnect between many PMOs and the wider businesses they support, according to a group of senior executives and academics that studied the trend. They recommend that some organizations would be better served by a decentralized approach that creates “pseudo PMOs.”
The best process for your project should be determined by careful consideration of key factors, including overall complexity, the level of risk involved, and time-to-market requirements. Often, a flexible hybrid approach fits best, but it must agreed upon by management and the team before the project starts.
Programming and testing are two completely different skills. When it comes to validating that requirements have been met and new issues haven’t been created, programmers need to step away from their own work; testers need to think like users and treat the system like a mystery.
So much hinges on the project schedule, yet so few team members contribute to it. Whatsmore, they typically don’t care about critical paths, constraints and other building blocks; they just want to know “what, where and when.” We're overdue for consensus-based planning tools that bridge execution and analytics.
The problem-solving skills on which project managers largely build their reputations might be greatly improved by mastering the challenge of problem-selecting instead. In short, the difficulty isn’t the problem; it's how we’re coping with it. Radical acceptance is a start.