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Tuesday, 04 November 2008 03:09

Just do it!

Written by Claude Emond

Implementing best practices and promoting best behaviours on the projects you manage.

For many years now, I have been giving customized project management workshops for various public and private organisations. Most of these organisations had, when they started these workshops, a low maturity level in project management, as defined by OPM3 or similar models. Most of the things I promote in those workshops, the contents of which are validated with customer representatives, just did not exist formally in these organisations when I started this training. Still now, more often than not, those who take these workshops go back and try to apply project management processes and tools that are unknown to their organisation as a whole, hence in an environment that has, apparently, no structure in place to support them.

Because of this lack of formal organisational structure, some workshop participants tell me that they are waiting for their organisation to promulgate the project management policies and put into place the processes, structures, practices, tools and incentive systems to support the use of the knowledge and skills I am coaching them to develop as habits. What I then answer to them is based both on my own experience and on what I have seen happening in most organisations where project managers do what they are supposed to do voluntarily. My answer is: You believe this project management stuff is necessary to the success of your projects and good for your organisation, do not wait for anybody’s permission! Just do it!

After the 250 participants mark in a series of workshops I am involved with, the customer, a world class organisation, made a survey to see what was happening with this training/coaching program? Were there any measurable benefits? What was found was the following:

  • Although not supported by formal organisational elements, two out of three participants (67 %) were actively using the knowledge and skills they had acquired in the workshops. They considered it helped them deliver better projects, with added satisfaction for their team and themselves.
  • The managers of those participants, using their new knowledge and skills, said unanimously that these persons had improved their performance in project mode significantly. Although they did not understand the processes and practices used (they had not been trained and there is no official project management elements in place), they valued the results so much that they asked for these workshops to be given to more resources in the organisation

Those participants, who did not wait for their organisation to give them official directives to apply their new knowledge and skills, found out rapidly that they still were able to create additional value for their organisation through the projects they delivered; and they were rewarded for this. They found out, like I did before them on the projects I managed, that you do not need the permission of anybody to act appropriately on your projects. Actually, the organisation that did this survey has continued to organise these workshops. I am up to 500 people trained/coached and still going at it. The organisation has still to put in place official processes to score better in maturity level with OPM3 and the like. Nonetheless, the maturity is increasing any time a new workshop participant just goes out there and applies what he has learned, because he believes doing so is necessary to the success of the projects he has to manage.

Lately, in one of these workshops, a participant kept repeating that he was waiting for his organisation to give him directives to use what I was teaching them. I simply told him that he was seeing it the wrong way. I told him that if his organisation had permitted him to take this workshop (a 4-day effort spread over four weeks), there was a reason for it. The organisation was now waiting for him to apply his new knowledge and skills to show the way to others.

The message was clear, his organisation was telling him: JUST DO IT!

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