For a project manager overseeing changes it’s like playing an old arcade game of asteroids. You have the control; but rather than protecting the Earth from approaching extraterrestrial rocks you are protecting your project from changes that could result in delays, confusion, missed deliverables and inaccurate expectations. While project changes will not be devastating to the planet, they can be to your project if not properly managed.
Growing up in New York during the 1980s, I enjoyed watching what was called “The Sunday Afternoon Kung Fu Theater” on television. This meant four hours straight of Kung Fu movies, dueling techniques, avenging deaths, dubbed voice-overs, and wonderful noises for punches and kicks. There was also the additional two hours after the movies ended when my brother and I would re-enact the movies on each other (and destroy our house in the process). This article ponders these similarities of these movies to project management to see if it can help Project Managers attain their “black belt” in managing projects.
As Project Managers we are responsible for the team we have been assigned. Often we have no input into the selection or replacement of the team. In these situations we need to make sure that we are able to maintain the best people, while improving the effectiveness of the others on the team.
The first managers to scale the pinnacle of Portfolio Management have recently qualified. Management of Portfolios (MoP) is the new Best Practice Guidance released by the Office of Government Commerce, a part of the UK Government which owns PRINCE2, MSP, ITIL and P30. Senior managers from the UK, Canada and Brazil, studied in March for the MoP Foundation exam in Scotland, on the first course run since MoP was launched in February 2011.
During the last decades, large projects tend to involve people from all around the world, extending the breadth of skills that a Project Manager should possess. Multi country project teams and virtual project team composition seems to be the norm in today’s globalized economy. Making the transition from managing projects where the complete team is local, to managing projects with teams covering various time zones and nationalities becomes increasingly challenging. It should thus be one of the areas that Project Managers managing such projects allocate additional planning time, to avoid any pitfalls that might create tensions and lead to overall problems. In the end it all comes down to managing culture.
Once the PMO’s identity is successfully crafted, the focus gravitates towards the definition of the project methodology, staff certification and the evaluation of automation tools. Occasionally, efforts are invested in charting the evolution of processes based on the standard PMO maturity model. The brave amongst the PMO cadres go further and delve into the political quagmire of establishing ground rules for project ownership. While all of these activities are commendable they do not—in their sum—constitute a PMO road map.
Many PMO directors consider ISO 9001 certification for their PMO at some point. Some embark on the ISO 9001 certification path because it is customary to do so, especially in organizations that are focused on product or service excellence. Other PMOs opt for ISO 9001 accreditation to win kudos amongst departments responsible for initiating for project work. Whatever the case maybe only a few PMO directors develop a strong rationale for undertaking such an endeavour.
I just finished reading another book by Joseph A. Michelli entitled: The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary  that contains a robust blend of home- ingenuity and people-driven philosophies that made Starbucks one of the world’s most admired companies. The Starbuck’s experience can be found at two levels of the company. Its corporate culture encourages its leaders to create a unique culture for employees in which empowerment, entrepreneurship, quality and service defines the value of the firm. Employees, on the other level create a unique and personal experience for its customers which act as a blueprint to turn an ordinary experience of buying coffee into an extraordinary experience. Since I am a true believer of the Starbucks experience I was wondering how these five principles could apply to project management.
I have been on several large initiatives where the dictated timeline didn't allow the team to follow a preferred waterfall approach. It was frustrating for the team because they had to finish in a very short time frame. No requirements had been documented and it felt as though we failed before we even began.
As the business community embraces the second decade of the 21st century, it is increasingly apparent that companies must invent flexible business models and supple delivery mechanisms to ensure survival in the age of unprecedented turbulence and uncertainty.
The epoch of corporate stability ended with the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008 and was exacerbated by the complexities of wars, revolutions, and unpredictable climatic conditions—all converging to ravage our planet. Against this backdrop, many companies are either struggling to protect their market share from emerging threats or are too slow to take advantage of a myriad of new opportunities to re-invent and diversify.