Tag Archives: Project Manager

Horse Racing and Project Team Parallels

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff.

Saturday’s (May 18, 2013) excitement in the USA’s Preakness Derby horse race made me think of the parallels between the players in the horse-racing “sport,” and in successful projects. Each player fills an essential role in both cases, but it is the integration of all the roles that makes for success. And still, unanticipated events can cause even a “sure thing” to fail. I am not a horse racing enthusiast, but will admit to being drawn in this year (2013) to the hopes of the latest “Triple Crown” contender (a horse winning all of the big three racing events).

Horse Racing Roles
racing
It is the Horse that wins the race, right? Well, not so fast (so to speak). A fast horse, in most cases, is a key to success, but the Jockey has a key role as well. That role includes deep understanding and communication with the horse, plus the in-race tactics that require instantaneous judgements when situations change.

This weekend, when Orb, the “sure bet,” Kentucky Derby-winning horse was hemmed in at the rail, neither he nor his jockey could navigate to the outside, where he could regain his stride. Even the most talented jockey and a stellar horse cannot always assure success. Continue reading

Most of What Got You Here is Wrong for Performing Here!

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff

This article is for those who are “moving up” in their project-oriented  organization, and for those who wish to. Not that everyone must do so; in fact, some of the most-competent, highest-performing contributors are those who are so good at what they do (and receive the recognition needed to sustain it) that they have no desire to do anything different. For the rest of us, however, there can be both excitement and danger in “moving on up”. We explore some of those factors here.

From Team Member to PM
Team Members who are high-performers sometimes have the opportunity to “move up” to Project Team Lead or Project Manager. The expectation is that your high performance will “rub off” on others. Sometimes that works, sometimes not, depending in part on your interpersonal skills, or as the USA-NCB (National Competence Baseline, based on the IPMA Competence Baseline) terms them, your Behavioral Attributes.

The challenge for this repositioned high-performer is that it is easier to do the toughest jobs yourself than to coach others through them. Not only that, but those of us who have been addicted to the adrenalin rush of significant accomplishment feel starved by the delayed trickle of appreciation that a Project Manager receives. Why? Your organization just expects that level of accomplishment from you.

The actions that brought you notice and acclaim as an individual contributor are the wrong things for you to focus upon as a Project Manager. Instead of brilliantly achieving, you must now carefully delegate, coach and nurture. Not at all the same set of competences, are they?

From Small, to Medium, to Large PM
Often, the progression as a Project Manager is to move from Small Projects, to Medium, and then to Large ones. And yet, the most-important competences that you demonstrate in Small Projects are the least important in Medium projects. Then in Large projects, they significantly change again.

We’ve known for years about the Fourple factor: That the skills, competences and performances in a thousand-hour project will work well for a twice-as-large project; Continue reading

A PROfessional Way to Assess and Improve PM Performance, part 1

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff
The December publishing of the Exposure Draft, together with the Press Release for PRO, IPMA-USA’s Performance Rated Organization, is a key event for us, for the USA, and for improved PM Performance. You can see the background, the link to the Exposure Draft, and the audiences for this tool at the PRO section of the IPMA-USA website. The purpose of this posting is to share a bit more perspective about PRO, the factors that drove us to develop and introduce it, and to acknowledge the members of the PRO team.

Many organizational assessments for project management already exist. We studied the strengths and weaknesses of many of them as part of our initial research. We found many that were very useful, some that could be useful, but were far too difficult to apply, and some that could produce great insights, but required too much effort, distracting key staff from their priorities. Most were proprietary, few were based on any accepted standard, and some that appeared to be merely a way for consultants to find work in your organization.

Many of the Organizational PM Assessments are based on a Maturity Model approach, similar to the Capability Maturity Model pioneered by the US Defense Department and Carnegie Mellon University. This approach is useful because it can offer a logical sequence of improvements. Otherwise, an assessed organization could be forced to choose from dozens of expensive initiatives, with no clear way to decide which offered the greatest value. Continue reading