Just because habits are unusual does not mean they are ineffective. There are several uncommon habits that DD Mishra has seen in project management which can lead to success too, and these are no run-of-the-mill traits you have heard ten times before. These are ploys that are sometimes downright devious in their simplicity and elegance, and in an article for InformationWeek, Mishra relates ten of those habits for our benefit:
- Stakeholders & sponsor
- Change management
- Center of gravity (COG)
- Appreciate threats
- Not everything is black and white
- Useful weakness
Mishra means diversity not just of skill set but of levels of ability. He cleverly recognizes that having a team full of aces can create conflicts in that everyone is certain their views and experiences are the most accurate and applicable. Remembering to control how and when change occurs in a project is another way to avoid strife, as well as understanding the value of lunching with your team to better network. Furthermore, managing and keeping communication open with stakeholders and sponsors guarantees the battle is not already lost before it has begun. Using innovation in customer discussions can be regarded as a means of creating minor win-win scenarios to avoid and condense lengthy discussions, and carefully studying signed contracts can be used as a strategic weapon in customer negotiations. All the same, sometimes agreeing to work outside the contract for customers can produce mutual benefits as well. Determining what Mishra calls a “center of gravity” is when you see who is most pulling the energy of the team for better or worse, and in an instance where someone is aspiring to replace you, he recommends assigning that person to the most difficult possible task so there is no time and energy left to pester you. Threats of the more business-oriented variety should be appreciated for their ability to create new potential avenues for revenue when crafting solutions. And finally, Mishra discusses the value of useful weakness:
I read a story of a porter in India who was responsible for filling water in his master’s drum from the well every morning. His bucket, in which he used to carry water to the drum, was having leaks. He used the weakness of his bucket to provide an additional service of watering the garden by choosing the correct route to the drum where he can provide both service at the same time. Sometimes what you consider as weakness is your strength. I encountered this in my first project when a team member who was not so technically sound used to articulate his issues very nicely over email. I had a requirement for a technical writer in my team where he fitted in very well and later he had good career growth.
Tactics like these are the kind you cannot learn in a classroom, but they can give you a big leg up on the competition. Making use of uncommon and easily missed habits could be just the thing to take your project management to the next level.