Imagine a World Where All Projects Succeed

PM ChangeAgent Commentary by Stacy Goff.
trophyI have used this article’s title as my kick-off phrase at a half-dozen project-related keynotes and presentations over the last few years. Most audiences immediately “lean into” the thought, and its ramifications. For example, in Moscow, Hong Kong, Beijing, Tianjin, Brussels, and in the USA, my audiences immediately took notice, became engaged, and were eager to hear more.

This August (2015) was the first exception I’ve had to that typical reaction: As I voiced the introductory statement, I immediately detected disbelief among many in my audience. This was at one of the USA’s best PM Symposiums: I think this is one of the best because of the high-level audiences, the speaker selection process, and excellent event organization.

When I sensed this audience’s disbelief, I immediately asked the question, “How many think this (for all projects to succeed) is even possible?” Less than a quarter raised their hands. So I launched into an extended introduction, pointing out that …

  • Project managers cannot improve project (and business) success just by working harder. Most of us are already working our hearts out;
  • Nor can we improve performance by sending people to still more training;
  • Our team members? They are not only committed to our projects—they are over-committed;
  • And our stakeholders? They are engaged, and expect us to continue to make miracles happen.

No, (I asserted) it is our layers of managers, from first-level to the executive suite, who hold the keys to higher levels of success. And (I said), the purpose of this presentation is to identify seven key insights that can help our organizations to improve PM performance—and business success. The paper that supports that presentation is posted at the IPMA-USA website; but the purpose of this article is to further explore this question of disbelief.

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Exploding the Myth of PM Best Practices

PM ChangeAgent Commentary by Stacy Goff.
What are the Best Practices in the world of project and program management (PPM)? Are there a few immutable truths that are transferable across nations, organizations, industries, cultures, and project teams? I often see assertions promoting PM Best Practices—despite my belief that the phrase is an oxymoron—that our discipline is not yet mature enough to have universal best practices. This article is a recap of many discussions on best practices over my years as a PM practitioner, then as a consultant.

best_practiceMy opinions about PM Best Practices go back to the early 1980s, when, as a PPM consultant, I frequently encountered executives, line managers, project managers, and other consultants, who expected to hear my handful of easy-to-implement “PM Best Practices.” In that era, I often made recommendations for improved effectiveness, but I called them “Competitive Practices.” And I usually sought, uncovered, and identified them from within their own organizations. I understood over thirty years ago that one organization’s best practices could be a scourge for others. Here’s why…

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Indicators of PM Competence

PM Certification commentary by William Duncan, IPMA-USA Certification Director. I haven’t been very reliable about posting here regularly. Part of the reason is that I often get involved in LinkedIn discussions about subjects that are near and dear to my heart … like project management competence. So in lieu of copying my comments in here, … Read moreIndicators of PM Competence

Performance Based Competency

PM Certification commentary by William Duncan, IPMA-USA Certification Director. I’ve been getting a fair number of questions recently about “performance based competencies,” and it’s been quite a while since I posted anything here, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and post something on the topic. The following text is adapted from … Read morePerformance Based Competency

More on Project Success

PM Certification commentary by William Duncan, IPMA-USA Certification Director. A slightly edited version of a recent LinkedIn post … this all started with a question that asked, “is scope, cost, and schedule enough to determine ‘project success.’” I responded with my usual position that “project success” is not an absolute, and that there were two … Read moreMore on Project Success

Art or Science?

PM Certification commentary by William Duncan, IPMA-USA Certification Director. Once again, from a LinkedIn discussion … someone posted a question. “Is project management an art or a science?” There were nearly 30 comments, most of which argued “both,” and most of which leapt right into the discussion without bothering to define their terms. So here … Read moreArt or Science?

Ten “New” Rules

PM Certification commentary by William Duncan, IPMA-USA Certification Director. Hal Macomber writes a lot of good stuff about soft skills in project management. Here’s a link to one of his posts that I like. Stop by and tell him I said, “hi.” http://www.reformingprojectmanagement.com/lenses/project-leadership/ten-new-rules-for-project-managers/ Why did I put “new” in quotes? Because there really isn’t much … Read moreTen “New” Rules

Are activities part of the WBS?

PM Certification commentary by William Duncan, IPMA-USA Certification Director. I got an email earlier today from an IPMA-USA member who wanted an answer to the title questions above. I told him “yes,” and he then quoted my words from the 1996 version of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge back to me: “The activity list must … Read moreAre activities part of the WBS?

The rush to licensure

PM Certification commentary by William Duncan, IPMA-USA Certification Director. The idea of licensed project managers has been discussed off-and-on for nearly 30 years now. With the Association of Project Managers in the UK apparently on the verge of getting approval from the British government to begin chartering project management, the discussions are heating up again. … Read moreThe rush to licensure

Why do we repeat our mistakes?

PM Certification commentary by William Duncan, IPMA-USA Certification Director. According to research, it’s because we don’t realize we’re making mistakes. http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/20/the-anosognosics-dilemma-1/?ref=global-home Here’s a quote from the above to whet your appetite: “[It’s] not just that people said these positive things about themselves, but they really, really believed them. Which led to my observation: if you’re incompetent, … Read moreWhy do we repeat our mistakes?