If we were asked to take oath as Project Managers, what could these possibly sound like?
What do you reckon?
Here’s what I think we all must swear by:-
#1: I will do my best to balance the needs and expectations of the stakeholders.
As PMs, it is important to understand that all projects are based on the needs of someone (a business unit / group of units / organization), and gauged against how good “it” (the end result) matches or shapes up, to that “someone’s” expectations.
Needs and expectations are two very different animals that need to be understood, acknowledged and fed (aka taken care of) accordingly!
It would be impossible to match all needs and expectations perfectly and hence it always comes down to how great / good / bad / ugly we are at balancing this equation, which ultimately determines the fate of the project.
I am planning to cover this aspect in more detail in subsequent articles (where I will try and bring out various techniques to bring in a more disciplined approach in this area).
#2: I will do my best to facilitate a participative and collaborative environment– for the team and stakeholders alike.
During the course of execution, ensure that you keep your stakeholders involved and in a participatory mode. What does this mean?
A project cannot be viewed as depending on an individual or team effort alone. A lot of times (if not always), success not only depends on how involved stakeholders are and their perception of the benefits and progress of the project (which are obvious aspects) but more importantly also on your ability to intertwine the project with your stakeholder’s activities and interests.
Simply put, while you plan / run the progress and key developments through your stakeholders frequently, also put in place a mechanism (or forum) for the Key stakeholders to participate and plain contribute to the project / program. This will ensure you not only evince interest but also gain buy-in from them – the most crucial element to success.
An example would be – Facilitate Design reviews / Solution walk-throughs so that stakeholders get the chance to understand, review and participate in the Solutioning process and can recommend their suggestions as well. This will allow for early feedback to be obtained, helping you to course correct early. This will in turn help keep the changes in check during acceptance and also ensure expectations are aligned during the course of the project.
To summarize and recap – this project could be your only baby, while for others, this may not be the case or they may not like babies at all (!), so make sure that you are able to garner interest and build a sense of responsibility and involvement across all stakeholders.
#3: Planning for Failure – I will know my team’s stride and will ensure there is a safety net, when we make the jump together.
A project is not just about people, processes, systems and infrastructure alone. It is all about knowing how these elements impact people and vice versa (more importantly). Projects succeed because people want it to succeed. You need to understand this well enough, to lead the path to success.
When you work in a team, it is absolutely essential for you to understand where the best contributions can come from, how each can be structured towards achieving the project goals and endeavor to make “success” a collective paradigm.
In this context, a safety net is important because as the Project Manager, you must have a clear understanding of the challenges and any plan Bs you may need to handle contingencies or failures.
Brainstorm with each “category” of stakeholders, on what could impact (in their respective areas or across) and how to mitigate the same.
Plans which have been prepared without such consultative efforts usually have a poor chance at success.
Digest this thought – From a planning perspective, you can succeed, only if you know how (all) you could fail!
In conclusion, as Project Managers, lets take the oath and promise our stakeholders that we will be diligent in our approach around balancing needs & expectations, enforcing collaboration and planning right.
In closing, I would like to think of this as the “BCP” framework for successful Project Management – Balance, Collaborate, Plan for Failure as the 3 key elements / pillars on which individuals, teams and processes must be built on / run.