So, you have a schedule with 100,000 activities, including lots of details. Will you succeed in managing your project? Not necessarily. In fact, chances are high you won’t! I’ve been in such projects, and we always tried to fix the problems by adding even more details to the schedule. It never worked.
What’s the problem?
The problem is that scheduling is only part of project management, and it won’t be effective if you don’t cover other domains. Project management is like a chain, and each domain a link. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
That’s where the PMBOK Guide helps us. It helps us understand the chain and make it stronger. For example, it doesn’t tell you how to measure progress; instead, it tells you how to connect that measurement to other aspects, to make it effective
I read somewhere that Otis, or another elevator production company, had a serious problem with its products: people were complaining that their elevators were too slow.
So, they had one project after another to increase the speed. Some succeeded, some didn’t. But customers were still unhappy. They were about to start another project, when…
The wise guy: why do you want to increase the speed?
The executive: because we need the elevators to be faster.
The wise guy: why?
The executive: because it’s important for an elevator to be fast.
The wise guy: why?
The executive: because people are complaining that they are too slow.
The wise guy: why do you think they are complaining about that?
The executive: because they get bored in the elevator.
The wise guy: aha! So, you don’t want to increase the speed, you just don’t want the passengers to get bored!
Later, they came up with the idea of putting mirrors in the elevators. Then, people had something to think about when they were in the elevator, and they were no longer bored. They even thought the elevators had become faster.
However, this story is about initiating the right project. How does it apply to us, when we’re already in the project?
It’s a great day, isn’t it? After all, you are not responsible for losing millions of dollars in your company ;)
What do you think was the reason for that CEO to reject the resignation of the executive who caused the company to lose millions of dollars?
The CEO said: we’ve just spent millions of dollars training you, how can I let you go?!
We’re making a lot of mistakes, and we come up with many great ideas in our projects. Do we keep this knowledge? Do we reuse them in the future projects? Or do we keep reinventing the wheel?
It happens automatically for individuals. We all have memories after all. However, it’s different for the organization as a whole. We can be more successful if we share the experiences created in the company. The least we can do is to store our historical information in a way that is accessible in the future. The other is to capture lessons learned, every day. Just imagine creating an online forum for the project team and have them discuss their problems and solutions there. It’s a great resource for all team members to learn from.
It was the second core principle: Learn from Experience.
We’ll talk about the third principle tomorrow. Before that, please answer this simple question: what is your exact responsibilities in the project? Do you really know what others expect from you? Do you know what you can expect from others?