3 de noviembre de 2013

Projects need more Sociology and less Technology

We Project Managers are mostly judged by results. This is not quite a rewarding profession: If we meet the goals, no one will praise us. If we don’t meet the goals everybody will criticize us. But the most of the project work falls out of our area of control: we are appointed not to do, but to manage what others do. 

Projects don’t usually fail just because of technological issues. You can easily find the required technical expertise among team members quite often. A project may fail just because team members John and Mike don’t even talk to each other. The absence of soft skills in project management is often the root cause of failed quality control and scope validation, low productivity of the team, high level of rework, slippages, cost overruns, etc. Our profession demands more of Sociology and less of Technology.

Effective Project Managers are role models to personal effectiveness, but they are even more outstanding in inter-personal effectiveness: they are used to getting public victories. They are real experts in negotiating, communicating, leading, and they never stop learning. They rarely become Effective Project Managers through quick fixes, tricks, manipulating or deceiving others. Overall, we think of them that they are “good persons”. They have a good character, forged with good habits. They play a referential (not positional) leadership, based on principles: They are honest, responsible, respectful, integral, humble, trust worthy, persistent, patient, etc. They may not be very eloquent, but it is a pleasure to work with them and for them. They may not be subject matter experts in the field, but they always know the name of the expert to call. 

When leading projects to success, there is no shortcut. To form and develop good Project Managers, it is not enough just to do it by tolling, training, standards or books. Credentials and complete training programs are not enough neither.

Many projects turn into vital experiences. Projects are rarely entirely determined since the beginning. Quite often, the project is a continuous process of discovery, re-planning and re-aligning. Every project is a collective experience of growth. After living a challenging project, producing a synergic team, people are not the same anymore. These projects mark our lives: there is a before and after.

When a project is a painful, unpleasant, regretful experience, one thing is certain: it will end late, with poor quality and cost overrun. Project Managers are judged by goal achievement, true, but in this profession the means counts as much as the end.

To be an Efficient Project Manager, you enjoy uncertainty. You accept that projects are prone to problems. To get wise solutions, you involve the people in the problems and seek the solutions with them.

When working or leading a project, you better “live” that project as a complete personStephen Covey represented the complete person paradigm with a circle of four sections, one for each type of intelligence: the body (physical intelligence), the mind (mental intelligence), the heart (emotional intelligence) and the spirit (spiritual intelligence). Let’s see how to translate these four intelligences into Project Management: 

  • Body: To follow a strict discipline to execute the plan. To align goals to results. 
  • Mind: To compose a complete mental image of the project and its parts. To continuously visualize results and the way to achieve them. 
  • Heart: To seed trust among team members. To get them know how to do and get them do that by themselves. 
  • Spirit: To feel the transcendent contribution of the project in the bigger scheme of things.

Each project needs a lucky strike, but luck usually comes if we are really connected. Apply a principle centered leadership to take the right decisions. Live your project being present and aware. To get public victories in your projects, don’t take the fastest or easiest path: take the most beautiful one. 

The most beautiful path to lead a project is the one which let you and your team members grow as complete persons.

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