What does project management mean to me?

How on earth did I get into project management?

Let me go back some 20 years. I was what we would call today an OD Manager (organisation development manager). I worked with managers to bring about change. I was sat in my office and there was a knock on the door:

“Do you have a few minutes Ron?”

That was a question that was to change the direction of my career. Why? I was faced with a professional who had a real problem. This person had deliver what he described as “a huge piece of work.” He was struggling and I sat with him and we looked at the issues for an hour and suggested we meet again in a few days.

Research within the company and the wider development world led me to PRINCE. Note: not PRINCE II but PRINCE! But, had I tried to introduce it into the organisation it would have killed off any reasonable attempt at delivery of any of the changes this person (and several others) needed to make. It was not seen as particularly practical.

I then ran some simple ‘work organisation and planning workshops’ for a group of 6 managers all facing the same situation as the person who knocked on my door.

The results: amazing. The confidence among these individuals grew and they encouraged others with their organised approach and motivation. The huge pieces of work were moving forward and while there were still problems they were a lot smaller compared to the issues they first faced. The projects (large pieces of work) were delivered with some on time, some late, some over budget. But, they were delivered!

This is the impact that 6 people who were organised had after 2 days of workshops and further coaching. The impact for me was to focus on project management as a tool for bringing about change

So what does project management mean to me: being organised and using it to bring about change.

But it also means having the systems and processes in place to ensure success. Too many companies see project management as a way to deliver change but do not introduce the changes to bring this about e.g. decision making that still needs to go through several layers of management or sponsors who are not trained in their role. So what project management means to me: having the correct systems and processes in place to support the changes the company wants and needs.

Now, you can have all the organisation in the world, you can introduce great systems and processes but what about people? It’s people who deliver projects? It’s not processes, but people.

Processes clearly help, but without people, projects will never be delivered effectively. Just how much time and effort goes into developing the people skills of project staff; project teams, project managers, project sponsors and steering groups? Not enough, is my view. Projects are being delivered but in some cases the project team do it through long hours and cajoling and driving themselves really hard. But, could more be done by helping them develop the “hard people skills?”

So project management means to me: those engaged in projects (and the wider organisation) having well honed people skills to face and deal with what is ahead

So what does project management mean to me? It means:

  • being organised and using it to bring about change
  • having the correct systems and processes in place to support the changes the company wants and needs.
  • those engaged in projects (and the wider organisation) having well honed people skills to face and deal with what is ahead

P.S. This post is published as part of a first ever project management related global blogging initiative to publish a post on a common theme at exactly the same time. Seventy four (74!) bloggers from Australia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, UK and the USA have committed to make a blogging contribution and the fruit of their labour is now (literally NOW) available all over the web. The complete list of all participating blogs is found here so please go and check them out!

 

 

Image courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net – Stuart Miles

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3 Responses to What does project management mean to me?

  1. Shim Marom says:

    Hi Ron, thanks for taking part in the #PMFlashBlog initiative.

    As I make my way through the substantial number of blog contribution I try to find the key message that each can have for me.

    In your post, I believe, the key point I take away is the point of looking at project management as an enabler of change.

    Thanks again,

    Shim.

    • Ron Rosenhead says:

      Thanks Shim. I had an interesting call from someone who had read the blog. His point was that the main point was don’t forget
      the people!

      To quote the idiom: different strokes for different folks!

      Thanks Shim and for starting off the idea of a flash blog.

      Ron

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks Ron – this is a great summary. People + Processes = Change!

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