Key Project Management Behaviours and Attitudes conducive to successful Project Delivery

Posted by Kevin Brady on Wed 18th October 2006 at 09:00 AM, Filed in Project Management

When troubleshooting sick IT projects /programmes and departments, I have always tried to introduce into client organisations measures that help foster the development of cultures, values, and associated processes conducive to making successful project delivery a repeatable proposition. It is without doubt the most challenging and difficult aspects of any troubleshoot.

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I have become more and more convinced over the years that the following values and behaviours are crucial components of successful project /programme management :-

• Dedicated and relentless business focus i.e a project /programmes business case

• Persistent drive to provide clarity (hence the reasoning behind the name of my consultancy “Clarety” a play on the word “Clarity”)

• Behaving with integrity

• Personal energy and an ability to harness the energy of others

Wherever these core values and behaviours missing, I have generally found some of the most abysmal IT project /Programme Disasters. It is my firm belief that successful project delivery starts with a vision from the top, which is executed by management in accordance with these core values and attitudes.

What do these values /behaviours actually mean:-

Dedicated and relentless business focus. This is the total focus on a project or programme’s business case. This (agreed) document should identify key system features required to achieve specific business objectives /goals along with detailed costings & business benefits of the work undertaken.

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A good project manager must make sure that this information is clearly interpretated and communicated down the project /programme organisational structure to minimise the gap between what your project team believes needs to be delivered and the expectations of the business people. This focus on business need and return on capital employed is essential to control change and limit the potential for scope creep. How else can one keep enthusiastic, and often technology obsessed, business sponsors /users and creative developers from looking for the next intellectual challenge, and singing from the same business related hymn sheet?

Persistent drive to provide clarity. This is often the most misunderstood of the values /behaviours I believe in.  Clients often get this concept wrong, despite however many presentations I make. I pointed out at a recent Drake University Conference that its usually during week 3 into project /programme of work that the reality of what this commitment means hits home i.e task tracking, risk and issue management.

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It is vital to provide continuous transparency on the essential aspects of a project /programme of work from week to week, in a similar way that a car dashboard provides essential-fit-for-purpose information necessary for your safety and the car’s health. Without this steering or managing a project for success becomes impossible!!

Integrity. This can be another troublesome area with clients. Organisations where IT projects /programmes fail regularly the incumbent IT management often survive through the use of well practiced Spin Management Techniques. Project Managers with Integrity can be regarded by clients as a spanner in the works of an effective spin machine, which has seen many bonuses paid and preserved many “jobs-for-the-boys”. The fact that a healthy injection of management integrity would help make IT Project Failures less frequent, and therefore reduce the need for a spin machine is often lost on such people.

Projects rely on teams working well, and good teams are built on trust. Also, stakeholders need to be able to trust the project team because, while projects are transient, the customer has to live with the outcomes for many years – long after the project team has gone.

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Without integrity trust disappears, teams don’t function effectively, and time is wasted because opinions are not respected. More time is spent protecting positions than in delivering the project. All the Project Managers gravitas and respect is lost, very often for good unless that manager moves to another organisation.

Energy and an ability to harness energy in others. It is often stated that enthusiasm is a force multiplier where projects are concerned. I have often inherited project managers and looked into their eyes and for whatever reasons the following Jamaican saying comes to mind :-

“The Melons Look Ripe but the Rum Shop’s not open”

In other words the inner energy necessary to push the project forward is just not there. People, in my view, cannot be given this gift. They either have it, or not, and I never waste time mentoring such people. You either have the capacity to work 65 hour weeks,  work late at night and run presentations at the weekend together with family commitments or not.

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Push people who don’t have this genetic makeup and they end up in the doctors surgery.

I believe energy is perhaps the greatest differentiator between good and bad project managers. Good Project Managers don’t leave on time, sit back, and monitor history: they actively go out and manage the future.

All good leaders exude and create energy and enthusiasm toward achieving their objectives – and project managers need to be good leaders.

They have to be able to drive the project forward, finding creative solutions and working in partnership to release the power of the individual and the team. They have to be able to motivate people and recognise the importance of acknowledging and rewarding achievement. Determination and persistence makes things happen.

This does not mean rushing about like a headless chicken: it is about the focused application of influence and determination to find the means to deliver – not finding out why things can’t be done.

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READER COMMENTS:

Good article, Kevin. I hope others follow your lead, and not just PMs.

As a project manager pushing these values in a company that didn’t have them, my life was a constant uphill battle. Over time I was able to show others why this advice made sense, and how it could work for them. Ultimately though, I just should have switched jobs sooner.

Posted by Jacob  on Mon 23rd October 2006 at 02:13 PM | #

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