Latest "managing projects" Posts
At a conference last month, I sat next to a professionally dressed and extremely articulate young man who’d recently been hired as COO of a medical services company.
“What are your biggest challenges?” I asked him.
He went on to explain that his board of directors was unhappy because profits had plateaued. His R&D staff was not very innovative. The HR systems were not efficient. The IT department was slow to fix issues. And the sales staff was barely meeting quotas. By the time he finished talking, there were few departments in his organization left that hadn’t been targeted for blame.
“So, where does the responsibility for all of these problems lay?” I asked, genuinely curious to hear how he’d answer.
The man silently stared at me for about a minute.
As a project manager, your job is complex and requires a multitude of skills. The more complex the project, the more staff, vendors, stakeholders, etc., the more things that can go wrong.
In fact, project management seems to operate squarely under the dictates of Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
Budget overruns? To be expected. Delays and setbacks? All in a day’s work.
Feuding departments and unrealistic expectations? Don’t let ‘em keep you up at night.
However, there is one set of project management problems you might never have considered. In this particular case, ignorance is definitely not bliss. I’m talking about problems that you — the project manager — create for yourself.
Let’s take a closer look, and hopefully you will not fall into any of these tricky traps.
This could very easily be a four-word blog post, because the two secrets to effective project management are … drumroll, please … leadership skills and communication skills.
So, now that I’ve given my secrets away right up front, I hope you’ll stay tuned for the rest of the post!
I’ve written a lot about leadership skills in this very blog. Here are a few flashbacks:
In this post, I’m going to focus on communication skills as they pertain to project management.
Let me kill two birds with one stone and also whet your appetite for my newest “mini” book coming out in early 2014, Critical Communications: Strategies for Success, by providing some relevant excerpts…
There are various software programs that can make the implementation of a complex project much more manageable and trackable.
Management of projects has been necessary since projects began. Perhaps it started back in the prehistoric hunter-gatherer days, when someone had to manage the tribe’s stocking up of food for the winter.
As a distinct career, project management has only been around for the past couple of decades. And yet, Aristotle managed to define the work of a project manager beautifully more than two thousand years ago: “First, have a definite, clear practical ideal: a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends: wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end.”
Project management is a highly complex and detailed job. It requires a combination of hard and soft skills.
Of course, it requires organized thinking, the ability to see the big picture — plus keep track of the details —and the ability to wear many hats and juggle many different things at once.