Richard Newton wears many hats. Included amongst these are his work as a consultant, author, blogger, change leader, company director, and program manager. His most well known project management book is The Project Manager: Mastering the Art of Delivery. He is also the author of the best-selling Dream It, Do It, Live It which applies project management principles to achieving personal dreams.
There are three outcomes that managers in business are regularly required to achieve. I want to discuss these three outcomes, or more precisely the inter-relationship between them. I am going to use the example of projects. That is not because this is an article for project managers, but because projects provide a very clear example of the problems of trying to achieve these three outcomes simultaneously. The ideas in this article are widely applicable beyond the specific domain of projects.
The three outcomes are: meeting commitments, enabling flexibility and keeping resources 100% utilised. The main message of my article is simple: you cannot achieve all three. Constantly trying to do so is a waste of effort that misses an important opportunity.
I regularly interview and otherwise engage with lots of project and program managers. Sooner or later the conversation turns to how good they are at their job, and usually pretty soon into this conversation the response comes that they have a great track record. Their great track record is justified because they have repeatedly delivered to time and budget.
Frankly, I am usually a bit sceptical at this point.
Most large organizations have some form of project management and change management teams. In fact, lost of businesses have multiple teams running projects, delivering change and otherwise helping the organization to develop and improve.
There is lots written about project, programme, portfolio and change management – about increasing project performance, creating high performing project teams and so on, but there is less thought about the setting up and running of project and change management teams.
I am often involved in recruiting project managers for my clients. Project managers who clients hope will deliver the perfect project. What is it that makes me want to interview a project manager, and what CVs do I throw in the bin? At all times, but especially in tough times like the present, successful project managers are those who's skills are relevant to their customer’s needs. This is really important when it comes to changing your role. So, how do you make yourself appealing to that customer? Here are 6 simple tips that in my experience will increase your chances of getting that new job.
There is a trap it is easy to fall into and, if you fall into it, you will lose out on many opportunities in life. This is the trap in which you look at successful people and assume they are the lucky ones. You may think they get all their ideas right first time and never have had any problems in achieving what they have. Your impression may be reinforced by the media’s continuous portrayal of successful people leading completely perfect lives: they never faced roadblocks, they never trip up, and they are never bored. You could not be more wrong if you think like this.
I was not the most diligent of students first time around. The pleasures of a vibrant social life seemed much more interesting. But I ploughed my way through 4 years of a double honours degree in Mechanical Engineering and Economics. Like many graduates, I have never practiced my academic disciplines. I have never worked as an engineer or an economist, and much of what I learnt has been discarded to the dim recesses at the back of my mind. I can at least say I had a brilliant time at university.
Project reporting is an important aspect of project delivery. There are many reasons to develop regular project reports. Project reports create a focal point for clarifying the precise status of a project and for providing information which helps key stakeholders to perform necessary supporting actions as well as manage customer expectations.
Ronald Coase the Nobel prize winning economist died recently at the ripe old age of 103. I have an economics degree and remember, very vaguely, having his theories explained.
The American philosopher Thomas Nagel ends his short book “Mind and Cosmos” with these words:
“The empirical evidence can be interpreted to accommodate different comprehensive theories, but in this case the cost in conceptual and probabilistic contortions is prohibitive. I would be willing to bet that the present right-thinking consensus will come to seem laughable in a generation or two – though of course it may be replaced by a new consensus that is just as invalid. The human will to believe is inexhaustible.”
One of the habits I have observed in management is the tendency, in trying to solve a problem, to focus in one area, when it is a different issue that lies at the bottom of the challenge being faced. A key reason for this is the questions that are asked.