I had an interesting experience recently running a project management course for a group of staff. I asked the group what issues they faced in running their projects. A range of problems were raised:
- legislation not yet in place but the project still needing to be planned and have a risk assessment!!
- key people leaving
- lack of specific resources including IT systems that are up to date
These are a few of the points raised. We then started to talk about how to increase the probability of project success by having some common processes to deliver. Then came the following words:
“I don’t have any processes to deliver my projects. I just do it. I just wing it; I’m not a natural template filler.”
I had a battle on my hands.
Throughout the 2 day course she kept referring to winging it. I kept to the script (broken record technique) and said that I was training the group to use the internal project management approach which is based on best practice.
Around 3.30 on day two I delivered a very detailed summary of what we had covered so far. I then asked the individual who liked winging it how she viewed the overall application to her projects.
“I’m convinced. It is not going to be easy to put it into practice but I’m convinced.” I was clearly pleased and asked her what had convinced her. She suggested that I had stuck to the script. She was mostly convinced though by the some of the vociferous comments by others suggesting that those projects that had been successful within the organisation were ones that followed the internal project management approach. Several examples of projects were cited and she was convinced.
She agreed to work with another person on the course to mutually help each other deliver projects.
So what can we learn from this?
- the messages must always be on target and repeated – if you say it loud enough and long enough people will hear you
- you need internal allies to support change – the allies on the course really helped in getting this person (a senior manager) to recognise that just do it was not an option
- for project management to be successful, you need an internal project management approach, well communicated and well used
- you need training to get people to try out new skills and to get them to communicate it to others
Just do it – not an option. Project management needs rigour, process and people. This person admitted she flew by the seat of her pants and her personal organisation skills got in the way of these.
Who do you know who just does it or just wings it? What help do they need?
Picture by: Sujin Jetkasettakorn: