The Credo of the Spin Project Manager

Posted by Kevin Brady on Mon 22nd February 2010 at 12:21 PM, Filed in Programme ManagementProject ManagementProject /Programme Failures

I have been reading over the last few weeks a number of blog articles concentrating on the popular question “Why is the Project and Programme Management profession so lacking in professionalism and capability ?”. Well I have to say having been involved in a Project / Programme Management recruitment programme for one of the big 5 for a year I was surprised to find some not so obvious answers to this question.
To start with our interview and selection statistics were as follows:-

About 25% of applicants failed to answer a standard domain knowledge assessment questionnaire and only 5% of those that passed this part of the interview and selection process actually passed the following scenario based interview where they were required to put together a realistic and achievable Project Management Delivery Solution. The scenario interviews were in my view and my colleagues a really eye opener and perhaps explained why so many IT projects fail each year.

Intrigued by this situation I decided to follow-up what happened to those candidates who failed the interview process. What I discovered was surprising. Those with the worst domain knowledge scores were the ones who got employment the quickest and many of them with some of the most reputable large company’s in the FT index. On further investigation it turned out that these people got jobs under the following circumstances:-

  • The people on the whole selected them were not other Project Managers or IT Management Professionals but HR professionals and Line Managers from the “Business as Usual” aspects of the interviewing organisation.
  • The interviewers seemed to be looking for adherence not to sound project management principals / capabilities or experience but a solid track record in adherence to the “Spin Project Management Credo”

So what is this Spin Project Management Credo?

Well from what I could see it was adherence to the following principals:-

  • Truth is the opinion of the majority of your stakeholders and changes daily. Be prepared to change your views on a dime.
  • A promise to deliver is infinitely malleable.
  • A constant focus on new and often unproven project management methods are diversions from the truth about you and your organisations poor project management capability.
  • A pledge to deliver is all about keeping your job and nothing to do with project success.
  • Select the desired short-term outcome and adjust your principles and management best practice to achieve that outcome even, if the long- term reality is assured project failure.
  • Lying to stakeholders is not a gamble, the winners rewrite the history of a project or programmes progress, turning failure into success.
  • The wages of sin are bounteous and sometimes paid in ermine.
  • The loyalty most admired is not to your project stakeholders but to your superiors.
  • Between error and truth, chaos and order, sin and virtue, lies the third way to run an Project.

If you believe this credo exists then here perhaps are the seeds of many a project and programme failure and explains why so many Project and Programme Managers see professionalism as a barrier to keeping their jobs. 

 

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