“Things are not always what they seem.” Few people know this to be true more than project managers. Even the most seasoned of project managers cannot expect everything to run smoothly all the time. In his article, Shim Marom, a seasoned project manager, recalls a conversation he had with another experienced project manager. Sandy calls Marom to discuss a project management issue she is having:
“Things are not always what they seem” replied Sandy. “The project sponsor, not wanting to be involved in the day to day mechanics of the project, appointed a steering committee with four senior members and these guys lack the focus or the commitment of the sponsor. They say the right things and verbalize their commitment but I can never get them all to attend steering committee meetings and in between meetings they seem to be pulling the project in different directions.”
“Interesting predicament, have you tried to communicate this to the project sponsor?”
“Well, he sort of delegated all communication channels to the steering committee and they, as I mentioned before, are causing more confusion than help”.
Marom notes that Sandy’s problem is not entirely uncommon. He says this may be due to a “maturity gap” between IT run projects and business run projects. This means one part of the organization is more organized and more willing to implement than the other. Furthermore, Marom notes that once a project has been assigned, it is unwise to expect the project manager to revamp the organizational culture.
Marom reminds us that this is an issue that many people in the business world are willing to offer a solution for. However, many of these solutions may work for one organization but not for another. Marom recommends managing the fundamentals as methodically as possible. In short, control what you can to the best of your ability while trying to gain increased involvement and motivation from your stakeholders. You may not be able to change everything in project management, but working on the things you can change may still make a positive difference.