Succeeding in the Project Management Jungle: How to Manage the People Side of Projects

Overview

Succeeding in the Project Management Jungle addresses a subject that doesn’t get enough coverage in management books. It’s a practical and definitive work that will enable you to get results from your people no matter how many solid or dotted lines fill up your organization chart.” — John Berra, Senior Advisor and past Chairman, Emerson Process Management

It’s a jungle out there for project managers, and no amount of Lean, Agile, or Six Sigma finessing is going to tame a ...

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Overview

Succeeding in the Project Management Jungle addresses a subject that doesn’t get enough coverage in management books. It’s a practical and definitive work that will enable you to get results from your people no matter how many solid or dotted lines fill up your organization chart.” — John Berra, Senior Advisor and past Chairman, Emerson Process Management

It’s a jungle out there for project managers, and no amount of Lean, Agile, or Six Sigma finessing is going to tame a massive project that’s threatening to unravel. No matter what process you’ve got in place, there’s one key ingredient that can make or break your success: managing the people.

Introducing TACTILE Management™, a people-based project management system that works in conjunction with your organization’s existing processes. Based on the seven char­acteristics of successful projects—transparency, accountability, communication, trust, integrity, leadership, and execution—Succeeding in the Project Management Jungle’s system shows you how to:

• Take a project team out of its functional silos and transform it into a powerful, integrated force.

• Balance the expectations of customers, management, and project teams with the traditional technical requirements of schedule, cost, and scope.

• Use people management skills to successfully navigate each process group, including initiation, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing.

• Troubleshoot the pitfalls that frequently jeopardize knowledge-worker projects, and eliminate or minimize their impact.

Complete with practical, real-world advice from practitioners in the field and a run­ning case study that astutely contrasts a standard project with a TACTILE-managed one, Succeeding in the Project Management Jungle is immensely practical, remarkably easy to master, and packed with invaluable insights for overworked, overstressed project leaders everywhere.

Doug Russell, PMP, is currently director of engineering at a Fortune 200 company. He has more than 25 years of experience in high-technology project management for commercial and government organizations, including Motorola, Intel, Textron Inc., and others.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814416150
  • Publisher: AMACOM
  • Publication date: 6/28/2011
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

DOUG RUSSELL, PMP, is currently Director of Engineering at a Fortune 200 company. He has more than 25 years of experience in high-technology project management for commercial and government organizations

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Welcome to the Project

Management Jungle

IT IS 1:15 A.M., a Tuesday night like any other. A lone light burns inside

a beautiful Tudor-style custom home on the edge of the Northwest

Hills in Austin, Texas. Inside, yet another busy project manager

struggles to complete his work for the day, entangled within the

project management jungle. In this unrelenting, always-on, pressure-

cooker environment, he juggles hundreds of e-mails per day,

endless meetings that accomplish little, stakeholders with impossible

expectations, and new problems that should have been foreseen

before they consumed additional money, resources, and

attention.

His two remaining tasks for the night are to finish up preparations

for his monthly ops review with management, scheduled for

the next morning, and to generate an approach on how to get his

design and test functional teams to work better together. The two

teams have been fighting with each other for weeks and are doing

little real work to solve their issues. That meeting is tomorrow, as

well, “sometime after 5:00 P.M.”

Down the hall, his two gorgeous children, five and three years

old, slumber away. He guiltily resolves, yet again, to take them to

the park on Saturday. Or perhaps it will have to be Sunday. He did

at least spend a few minutes with them earlier that evening, tossing

a small basketball, before they went off to bed and he off to his

Mac. His wife, hoping to spend some time with him watching a

DVD together, chatting about the kids, or talking about the possibility

of a vacation, has given up and gone to bed.

He sends several e-mails and then, cursing to himself, realizes

that he has misplaced a key notebook. Quietly, he slips into the

master bedroom to check a stack beside the bed. He glances fondly

down at his dozing wife as he finds the notebook and sighs as

he leaves the room. He wishes there were another way to easily

lead his large project group in the complex task at hand. So many

issues, he muses. Got to make it happen, though. Winners do what

is necessary to win. With one last look at his wife, he thinks firmly,

There will be time for catching up on all this when the project

is over.

His cell phone rings from the study. Frustrated that he cannot

finish his current tasks, he hurries to answer. It is his Asian customer,

full of questions about the latest status report. Wearily, he

tries to explain. He can tell his customer is not very happy with the

answers.

Forty-five minutes later—not really done yet—he stops for the

day, noting e-mail traffic coming in from all over the world, including

places where it is even later at night. Exhausted, he falls into

bed, trying not to make too much commotion. He rolls over and

almost immediately drops into sleep. The alarm will go off in four

short hours, and he will do it all over again.

Sound familiar? Welcome to the project management jungle!

Escape Is Possible from the Project

Management Jungle

You may think that immense stress and a large time investment are

the price of success as a project leader. But there is another way. In

the past few years, I have led multiple teams in several companies

to success without working excessive hours and while experiencing

much less stress than our friend here. This book will help you do

the same on your projects without going to lengthy weeklong training

classes or spending massive dollars on a new process.

Sadly, success in the project management jungle is too often not

the end result of all the effort involved. Enter “project success rate”

into a Web search engine and the results are disturbing, with many

studies quoting success rates of only 30 to 50 percent. Of course,

the majority of studies look at myriad teams in a variety of industries

and applications, and each study has its own definition of success,

making it hard to find a baseline for a clear picture.

Succeeding in the Project Management Jungle is aimed primarily

at active project managers who work with knowledge worker teams.

The term knowledge worker, of course, covers a lot of territory. After

all, virtually everyone in today’s workplace works with some sort of

data. We will focus on knowledge worker teams employed in information

technology (IT), software, hardware, systems design, and

other engineering or technically related applications. These professionals

struggle in the project management jungle every day.

Read on to learn about five key factors that create this jungle

environment. Then keep reading, and by the end of this book you

will have learned how to thrive there.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

PART I:The Project Management Jungle

Chapter 1: Welcome to the Project Management Jungle

Escape Is Possible from the Project Management Jungle

What Creates the Project Management Jungle?

TACTILE Management™ Defined

Succeeding in the Project Management Jungle

PART II:The Foundation of TACTILE Management

Chapter 2: The Seven Characteristics of Successful Projects

Transparency

Accountability

Communication

Trust

Integrity

Leadership That Drives Needed Change

Execution Results

PART III: Mastering the Expectations of Key Stakeholders

Chapter 3: Expectations Management

High-Level Stakeholder Expectations

Case Study: The R.101 Project

Traditional Project Constraints with Stakeholder Expectations

Triple Expectations Pyramid

Putting It All Together

Chapter 4: The Triple Expectations Pyramid and Your Customer

Customer Expectations: Scope

Customer Expectations: Cost

Customer Expectations: Schedule

Chapter 5: The Triple Expectations Pyramid and Your Management

Two Toxic Management Styles

Your Management’s Expectations: Scope

Your Management’s Expectations: Schedule

Your Management’s Expectations: Cost

Chapter 6: The Triple Expectations Pyramid and Your Team

Your Team’s Expectations: Scope

Your Team’s Expectations: Schedule

Your Team’s Expectations: Cost

Using the Triple Expectations Pyramid

PART IV:Avoiding Pitfalls in the Five KeyAreas of a Project

Chapter 7: Initiating

PM Assignment

Project Charter

Project Scope

Preplanning the Plan

Avoiding Toxic Management in Initiation

Case Study: The Path Less Taken

Chapter 8: Planning

Creating the Initial (Baseline) Plan

Historical Planning Approaches

TACTILE Planning Approach

Project Management Plan Basics: Scope, Time, Cost, and Risk

Management

Finishing the Plan: Quality Assurance, Human Resources,

Communication, Procurement, and Integration Management

Discovering and Addressing Needed Information Until Approval

Flexibly Looking Ahead

Avoiding Toxic Management in Planning

Case Study: The Path Less Taken

Chapter 9: Executing

Executing to the Plan

TACTILE Execution Approach

Meetings

Controlling Change Control

Selling New Baselines

Learning How to Win

Case Study: The Path Less Taken

Chapter 10: Monitoring, Controlling, and Reporting

Monitoring

(Don’t Even Try To) Control

Reporting

Case Study: The Path Less Taken

Chapter 11: Closing

Properly Close All Project Activities

Capture Data for Organizational Learning

Ensure Personal Growth

Case Study: The Path Less Taken

PARTV: LivingWell in the Project Management Jungle

Chapter 12: “From Chaos comes Creativity, from Order Comes Profit”

Bibliography

Index

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First Chapter

Succeeding in the Project Management Jungle

How to Manage the People Side of Projects
By Doug Russell

AMACOM

Copyright © 2011 Doug Russell
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8144-1615-0


Chapter One

Welcome to the Project Management Jungle

IT IS 1:15 A.M., a Tuesday night like any other. A lone light burns inside a beautiful Tudor-style custom home on the edge of the Northwest Hills in Austin, Texas. Inside, yet another busy project manager struggles to complete his work for the day, entangled within the project management jungle. In this unrelenting, always-on, pressure-cooker environment, he juggles hundreds of e-mails per day, endless meetings that accomplish little, stakeholders with impossible expectations, and new problems that should have been foreseen before they consumed additional money, resources, and attention.

His two remaining tasks for the night are to finish up preparations for his monthly ops review with management, scheduled for the next morning, and to generate an approach on how to get his design and test functional teams to work better together. The two teams have been fighting with each other for weeks and are doing little real work to solve their issues. That meeting is tomorrow, as well, "sometime after 5:00 P.M."

Down the hall, his two gorgeous children, five and three years old, slumber away. He guiltily resolves, yet again, to take them to the park on Saturday. Or perhaps it will have to be Sunday. He did at least spend a few minutes with them earlier that evening, tossing a small basketball, before they went off to bed and he off to his Mac. His wife, hoping to spend some time with him watching a DVD together, chatting about the kids, or talking about the possibility of a vacation, has given up and gone to bed.

He sends several e-mails and then, cursing to himself, realizes that he has misplaced a key notebook. Quietly, he slips into the master bedroom to check a stack beside the bed. He glances fondly down at his dozing wife as he finds the notebook and sighs as he leaves the room. He wishes there were another way to easily lead his large project group in the complex task at hand. So many issues, he muses. Got to make it happen, though. Winners do what is necessary to win. With one last look at his wife, he thinks firmly, There will be time for catching up on all this when the project is over.

His cell phone rings from the study. Frustrated that he cannot finish his current tasks, he hurries to answer. It is his Asian customer, full of questions about the latest status report. Wearily, he tries to explain. He can tell his customer is not very happy with the answers.

Forty-five minutes later—not really done yet—he stops for the day, noting e-mail traffic coming in from all over the world, including places where it is even later at night. Exhausted, he falls into bed, trying not to make too much commotion. He rolls over and almost immediately drops into sleep. The alarm will go off in four short hours, and he will do it all over again.

Sound familiar? Welcome to the project management jungle!

Escape Is Possible from the Project Management Jungle

You may think that immense stress and a large time investment are the price of success as a project leader. But there is another way. In the past few years, I have led multiple teams in several companies to success without working excessive hours and while experiencing much less stress than our friend here. This book will help you do the same on your projects without going to lengthy weeklong training classes or spending massive dollars on a new process.

Sadly, success in the project management jungle is too often not the end result of all the effort involved. Enter "project success rate" into a Web search engine and the results are disturbing, with many studies quoting success rates of only 30 to 50 percent. Of course, the majority of studies look at myriad teams in a variety of industries and applications, and each study has its own definition of success, making it hard to find a baseline for a clear picture.

Succeeding in the Project Management Jungle is aimed primarily at active project managers who work with knowledge worker teams. The term knowledge worker, of course, covers a lot of territory. After all, virtually everyone in today's workplace works with some sort of data. We will focus on knowledge worker teams employed in information technology (IT), software, hardware, systems design, and other engineering or technically related applications. These professionals struggle in the project management jungle every day.

Read on to learn about five key factors that create this jungle environment. Then keep reading, and by the end of this book you will have learned how to thrive there.

What Creates the Project Management Jungle?

Billions of dollars are spent every year on tools, processes, and training. Leaders and followers work more hours than ever. More metrics with which to manage are being pumped out by the people staffing the tools and processes. So why is there not a higher success rate on team projects? "Just the way it is," you say. "The projects are hard!" Yes, they are hard, but a few key factors have become tangled together over time to create the modern project management jungle:

* Environmental pressures

* Process-of-the-month club management

* Global nature of teams

* Poor leadership training

* Lack of coherent direction from management

Environmental Pressures

The environmental pressures are daunting. Modern schedules are short, performance requirements are fluid and seemingly always increasing, budgets are shrinking, and the right people are expensive and hard to find. Project leaders cannot change any of this; instead, we must learn how to better deal with the reality we face.

Process-of-the-Month Club Management

In an effort to respond to environmental pressures, many organizational leaders latch onto the latest project management process fad as they cast about for a recipe for success. They adopt these new project management techniques in record numbers, hoping against hope that the new processes will drive improved results. Once upon a time it was Six Sigma; more recently, Lean and Agile are the rage. These tools and processes, and many others, are all fine and useful. New tools and processes may be different—perhaps even better—but tools do not provide solutions. Like a golfer who buys a new driver but cannot escape his same old swing, new project tools are frequently purchased and implemented within the same old organizational culture that employees cannot escape.

Many adequate tools and processes are available, and over the years I have used most of them. But I have found that the particular tools used are virtually irrelevant to any individual project's success. The real key is the way that the organization thinks and learns and the culture it creates through the use of whatever tools are implemented within teams.

The Global Nature of Teams

In technology fields, rare anymore is the team that is located entirely in one country, much less in one building. Technical people—often not the best communicators in the world—struggle with communication, roles and responsibilities, and cultural issues.

Time zone and distance differences make communications difficult. Roles and responsibilities are tough to describe, but, to put it succinctly, there is almost always a struggle about autonomy and control that rages between the nonheadquarters and headquarters employees.

Multicultural issues ultimately cause the most confusion, and a great deal of time and energy can be wasted trying to deal with them. Even seemingly innocuous factors cause problems. For example, many people like to illustrate various conversational points with analogies that are familiar to virtually everyone in their own country. Many times I have heard someone in the United States use a football analogy, for example, only to be greeted with silence from employees in China, Israel, and India.

Combining an accent on top of these cultural misconnections makes for almost comical situations. Once, on a multinational call, a man from Ireland spun a detailed sports analogy involving a local football "cloub" and an exhibition against some "Febs" from "the mainland." It took several questions to understand that the Irish were playing a team from England and that he most definitely did not like them ("Febs" being a particularly harsh name to be called).

Of course, there are more serious cultural differences. It is well known in techie circles that employees from the Far East often struggle, for a variety of reasons, to bring up problems that have occurred—perceived loss of face not the least among them. On the other hand, people from those cultures often view North Americans as pushy, while Israeli employees may view them as soft and indecisive.

Poor Leadership Training

Another factor feeding the project management jungle is that managers are not taught what it means to lead project teams so that the desired business results can be achieved through people. As Larry Bossidy, chairman and ex-CEO of Honeywell International, says in the bestselling book (with Ram Charan), Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done (Crown Business, 2002): "The people process is more important than either the strategy or operations processes.... To put it simply and starkly: If you don't get the people process right, you will never fulfill the potential of your business. ... People process failures cost business untold billions of dollars."

Once, many corporations put new and recently promoted managers through effective leadership programs. GE had such a program. Motorola and many others had them as well. Some, such as Boeing Aircraft, still do, but such training is not currently prevalent, in part because of the global recession. According to an Ambient Insight Research study, "The overall U.S. corporate training and education market has been shrinking at a small but steady rate (negative 2–3% CAGR [compound annual growth rate]) since the recession of 2000–2001." What is needed is the mindset of a coach, who encourages, pokes and prods, and develops but doesn't try to control.

A related issue is the lack of formal project management training in college for many technical managers. Often people come into the workplace, become very competent at some technical specialty, and are put in charge of a small group, then increasingly larger groups until they control entire projects. The ad hoc ways they managed their small teams (e-mail, spreadsheets) will at some point cease to scale up. Without an adequate understanding of the value of project management tools and techniques, they "just don't understand," says Arun A., a Texas-based post-silicon test manager for a major semiconductor company. And what people don't understand, they tend to undervalue.

Lack of Coherent Direction from Management

Finally, there is a lack of coherent direction from above. The management leaders are often so caught up in surviving in their own jungles that they don't learn the needed coaching skills that would allow them to support their followers. Rare is the manager in the chain above you who actually mentors or coaches you, as opposed to micromanaging you.

The cartoon Dilbert has found great popularity by mining this vein of worker frustration with management precisely because it is so widespread. Almost everyone, unfortunately, can relate to it. Many project leaders miss the insidious interplay of these causes until they are well down a treacherous path that leads deep into the jungle, perhaps to emerge much later battered, bruised, and scarred for life.

TACTILE Management™ Defined

TACTILE Management was created in response to the question I often hear: "Why don't all the great process tools like Six Sigma, Lean, Agile, and so forth work more often?" It is true that these processes are valuable and can enable success. I was the manufacturing manager for a product that achieved Six Sigma quality in a Motorola factory, and I have seen teams successfully use many process tools. I have also seen companies abandon process tools. Process tools work better with some teams than with others, even in the same company. My conclusion is that it takes more than just process tools to generate success.

The difference is that, in the cases of success, there is always someone in the trenches who not only uses the process correctly but also has the people skills to match how the process is implemented with the capability of the team and the organization. The successful project manager:

* Creates and implements a systematic approach (philosophy, if you will) for leading people, with certain key concepts and words synthesized into a value system that creates a positive culture and enables success for the team.

* Incorporates the expectations of key stakeholder groups—the customer, management, and the team—into solutions.

* Identifies and plans for potentially perilous situations on projects. Problems occur on all projects, successful and otherwise. But avoiding or minimizing the effect of project pitfalls is key to successful completion, no matter what the process or tool might be. These pitfalls go beyond just the standard risks you might encounter.

* Project managers who master these three areas succeed far more often than those who do not. It is not that they don't have problems, but rather that when problems do occur they already have a cohesive team and an approach that enables them to weather the storm.

TACTILE Management is a people-based project management system. What does people-based really mean, you ask? Maybe a couple of quotes will bring this into focus. Rooted in my belief system is that "leaders can't motivate anyone—they can only create the environment where individuals motivate themselves," from Robert Townsend's classic 1970 business book Up the Organization (Jossey-Bass, 2007). I also like this from Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister's Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams (Dorset House, 1987): "Since 1979 we've been contacting whoever is left of the project staff to find out what went wrong. For the overwhelming majority of the bankrupt projects we studied, there was not a single technical issue to explain the failure. The major problems of our work are not so much technological as sociological in nature."

The world of project management is a tough, hands-on environment that requires project managers to leave their cubicles and get into the fray. It is indeed a tactile experience. People who work on projects don't have time for theory or weeks to learn yet another new process to get the job done.

The seven letters of the acronym TACTILE each correspond to a key characteristic of successful projects. Each term is defined later in this chapter and discussed thoroughly in Chapter 2.

* Transparency

* Accountability

* BLDBLDommunication

* Trust

* Integrity

* Leadership that drives needed change

* Execution results

Attempting to create successful project teams through the use of squishy-sounding words like these is often derided as the use of soft skills. But the ability to get work done by understanding people is vastly undervalued in the project management world. As Marcia Silverberg, vice president of HR Strategic Initiatives for St. Louis–based Ascension Health, says, "Soft stuff is the hard stuff. Culture eats strategy for lunch."

New processes and tools, with metrics and quantitative data—the so-called hard skills—are preferred by many project managers because they seem to provide actionable data and create the appearance of positive action when implemented. Managers who put these tools into place often only appear to be doing something useful. The last thing the world needs is another process that requires certification—these cult-like saviors of process, with guardians at the gate preventing qualified people from becoming project managers because they don't know the secret password. Instead, we need commonsense solutions to the tough problems that occur on projects. I have no quarrel with these processes per se; they form valuable disciplined frames upon which projects succeed. But tool and process alone do not generate success. Six Sigma, Lean, Lean Six Sigma, Agile, Theory of Constraints, and similar programs may be great systems, but they are not enough. In TACTILE Management, the term strong skills is defined as the ability to use any robust process, such as Lean, Agile, or Six Sigma, combined with the ability to get results through people.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Succeeding in the Project Management Jungle by Doug Russell Copyright © 2011 by Doug Russell. Excerpted by permission of AMACOM. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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