Want to help project managers in your company do their job better? It may come down to just three imperatives, if this article by Eric Knight can be trusted. Knight asked three senior level executives who were leading major projects what they’ve learned had the biggest impact on their project managers. They said it was valuable to:
- Be strategic, not tactical
- Talk about the red
- Have leading, not lagging, indicators
The first imperative is about making sure the milestones being set are the right milestones. Having great tactics is important, but as Knight explains, they aren’t worth anything if the strategy is not correct. The second imperative is about sharing what’s going wrong with stakeholders and steering committees. It makes failures okay to talk about (and thereby grants the opportunity to fix them). The final point is about having leading indicators:
The Right Indicators
Red is good. But amber is much better. Many managers aren’t able to tell their bosses if a project is off target, over budget, or past schedule until it has actually happened. Far more useful is to have lead indicators. These are triggers built into project plans so that managers have foresight into what’s going wrong as it’s happening. The key thing here is to focus on goals that really matter. If budget savings are what you care about, create lead indicators that phase in incremental savings. If being on schedule is the highest priority, create lead indicators that focus on completion to deadlines. In a cost-savings program in a major mining company, one manager built an intricate plan that culminated in big-buck savings in the final milestone. That’s no good. Much better is to break this final milestone into mini steps. Building good lead indicators means thinking about what really matters and giving that issue sufficient visibility.
Overall, the imperatives all point to the need for high level thinking pared with realistic discussion. It’s important to have the long view when it comes to what you want your organization to accomplish, but it’s just as important to recognize that it won’t all be smooth sailing.
Read the full article here: http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/03/three-imperatives-for-good-project-managers/