PROJECT MANAGEMENT ON THE WALL
A project is an investment. That is the inherent and indisputable truth. It is as much an investment as investing in real estate, shares, bitcoins etc.
Yet, it is different because projects require that PEOPLE collaborate, co-create, and that they pull hard in the same direction to succeed with the project - and to win with the organization and the customer.
That is the great thing about projects - but it is also the Achilles heel: Communication is difficult, and if there is bad communication in a project, it will greatly increase the risk of failing.
This is what few seem to understand: The core of project management is communication. It starts with stitching out clear agreements across the stakeholder landscape, and constantly overviewing, maintaining, and communicating about these agreements. This way, the good Project Manager will create a calm and quiet working environment because the good Project Manager will capture and manage the noise in a project.
As a Project Manager, you must lead the way, show people the path, the road, the journey. That is the true meaning of leadership, which we still hear in the Swedish language: "Kungs-leden", the King's trail, is a 440 km path system in arctic Sweden. "Led" means path, and it originates from the same word as leading or leadership.
So, it is very simple: Project Management is a craft that is done with people, it is about leading people, showing people the path, the objectives, the journey.
This ability is something that separates real Project Leaders from the "filling out templates in solitude” - Project Manager.
Risk management, Business Case, Issue management... these are hard skill areas that require leadership to make people collaborate, co-create, and pull hard in the same direction.
Below you see a Project Leader at the DIS/CREADIS office in Krakow. He is fine-tuning the 3rd iteration of a project plan. We ended up with 6 iterations. What will happen next is that the Senior Supplier, Lukasz, will come into the room, and suggest some huge changes to the plan - and we will do a fourth and fifth iteration before the plan shows the real and realistic path. Lukasz apologized: "I am sorry for ruining your plan", but in fact, he improved it greatly! Remember to invite people in to review and scrutinize your plans.
Planning is an iterative and including process, and therefore, we plan ON THE WALL - To include people, to improve the plan in iterations, to make everything transparent.
With this plan, we can measure PROGRESS on produced, reviewed, and approved deliverables. We know what is coming tomorrow, the next week, the next month. This will enable people to lead and manage the project proactively, help them foresee what is coming their way and what should be done.
This plan took 2 days to co-create. It will save weeks if not months of the project. It helps create transparency and creates a calm and energizing working environment for the team and enables clear reporting to the Project Board and the customer as well. There are no good excuses for sticking to the old, bad habits of "managing" projects on a PC, in solitude, filling out templates. It is a large and often costly misunderstanding.