Two Project Managers that Care

This week I’ve gotten inspiration from two project managers.  Both are long time associates.  One I’m working with now, and one is working on a project nearby.  Both are making big successes out of difficult projects by expertly applying project management tools and processes.   When I ask them about what’s making their projects successful, both go immediately to the processes and tools.  Clarifying scope, managing change, detailed and continuously evolving estimation, managing issues and risks, team building and role definition, and communicating relentlessly form the fabric of their project management uniforms.

I’m pondering whether “the other side of risk” is at work on their projects in some way.  I notice that the people on their teams and the supporting organizational units get on board and work collaboratively with their projects.  Is this because of a compelling project charter or a complete and logical work breakdown structure?  In part, yes.  But more questions get me to a deeper understanding of their success and closer to the other side of risk.

The other side of risk philosophy asserts that:

  • Application of tools is balanced with an understanding of and focus on the people involved and their individual and organizational aspirations.
  • The most insight on what can go right comes from visualizing perfect project outcomes in business results, organizational growth, and individual growth.
  • The journey taken by people on the project can contribute as much to positive project outcomes as the scope delivered.

I think that both of my friends apply these practices unconsciously or as a matter of personal values as a part of each tool or practice that they employ.  As I think about their answers, the common thread seems to be that they care.  They don’t apply project management as a detached overlay to the people and business undergoing the change.  They bring each practice to bear because they care about their teams and their mission and the people who are depending on them. 

Photo from John Flinchbaugh on Flicker

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It’s Not About You

As project managers, our job is to bring project management to a project, not just a project manager.  Sure, it’s important to have someone focusing on the important work of building schedules, managing issues and risks, tracking progress, and coordinating tasks.  But, what if you have to be gone for a month?  Does the team continue building schedules, managing issues, and so on?

This question is making me think about myself as a project manager.  Continuing to read Geoff Bellman and Kathleen Ryan’s “Extraordinary Groups,” I am thinking about what I bring to the groups I work with.  (See last week’s post “Death March” for more on “Extraordinary Groups”).  Do I bring a project manager, project management, or me?  I think the answer, where I’ve made the most of my contribution, is all three.  If I’m doing it right, it often starts with me reminding myself that “it’s not about me.” Continue reading