Project Management

Dreams & Reality

“Why are we doing that?” It sounds like a simple question. It often has a very complex answer. Getting to the essence of why is important for project success, but how we usually think about projects often gets in the way. Reframing the questions to get the answers that we need.

Process Can’t Compensate For Culture

Process is appealing. It provides structure and guidance and rules and boundaries. The challenge is that organizations are messy and complex. Projects are difficult. They require work and adaptation. You can’t just take process from one place, apply it to another, and expect it to work properly. You need to do something else.

Best Practices Usually Aren’t

There are few terms that have the same unbridled acceptance in business as “best practices.” Except that, for many organizations, best practices fail to deliver on the theoretical promise implied by the term. Best implies one superior way of working, where in reality there are many practices dependent upon many different things.

Deadlines Are Not Our Friends

Deadlines are the organizational tool of choice in assigning work. And for some of us, they are a necessary motivator of getting work done. At the same time, they are often tools of petty tyranny that keep us from doing our best work.

Pragmatic Practices—Not ‘Best’ Practices

I have long abhorred the term ‘best practice.’ What are labelled as ‘best practices’ often aren’t, or are only particularly useful and relevant in specific circumstances. The phrase is often used as a not-so-thinly-veiled effort at micromanagement, imposing the way someone wants something done through insinuating that not doing it that way would be in…
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De-emphasizing The Past; Emphasizing The Future

It’s not the tools we use that are bad, so much as how we use them. We spend too much time explaining the past, and not enough time contemplating the future. Even when we do, we consider the future far too certain and predictable.

Project Manager Wanted…

I have long believed that project management is a generalist skill more than it is a specialist one. In other words, project management is a way of thinking and doing that is applicable broadly, and it is expertise in the process—rather than the subject of the project—that is most important.

Acknowledging The Planned, Embracing The Emergent

For some years now, the work I have done as a consultant has consciously tried to help customers recognize the difference between ‘planned’ and ’emergent’ in the work that they do, and particularly in the projects that they undertake. While the ideas have resonance, and people quickly appreciate the differences, gaining acceptance that they require…
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Time Management Costs

I’ve consulted in project management for a long while now, and I’m acutely aware that project management has a cost. It has a value as well, but there is a premium that needs to be paid to manage work as a project. There is work that has nothing to do with producing the results of…
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Do People Rave About Your Methodology?

What does it mean to create an organizational project management capability, rather than a personal one? What does it mean as a project manager to give up our personal tools, techniques and capabilities – those that have made us successful to date, that we rely upon as the basis of what makes us a capable…
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