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The Magical Project Manager

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The delivery of projects is often focussed around milestones to be hit, budgets to be kept to and scope to be delivered. During these discussions a basic, but often overlooked fact, is that it is …

The delivery of projects is often focussed around milestones to be hit, budgets to be kept to and scope to be delivered. During these discussions a basic, but often overlooked fact, is that it is people who deliver projects. Ultimately, without a well-motivated and dedicated team of people, no project would ever be completed.

A slick project process with strong governance may make you feel good, but unless the people involved adhere to it, you won't get very far. People have feelings, get stressed and have other pressures which need to be understood to ensure project success.

People also have limits, which if pushed beyond, can mean short term success is coupled with longer term problems. To continue to deliver projects, a sustainable project approach is needed, and core to this are the talented people who do the work.

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  • Some areas of project management get talked about a lot, frameworks, alignment.
    These are great
    But we aren’t’ talking about them today
  • Some areas of project management get talked about a lot, frameworks, alignment.
    These are great
    But we aren’t’ talking about them today
  • Look at one of the basic jobs for a project manager
    Before we start, back to basics, what is a project?
  • We have all seen these projects – seen as a doomed venture
    People worry about it
    Don’t want to work on it
    Sure we all have examples
  • Our flavour of nightmare
    ‘Failure is not an option!’ people cry
    All things people know up front
    Project managers, keep your thoughts on what you would do with this for now
  • How should we deal with this problem? Stakeholders cry out that a solution must be found.
  • Our magical project manager! Not intimidated by the challenge, he tells everyone that the project will still be delivered on time.
  • And behold! The nightmare project is not, somehow it all comes together and is delivered
  • Hurray for our magical project manager!
    Accolades are given, and everyone is impressed!
    A pay rise for this fantastic manager!
  • The question we should ask is
    How was it done then?

    People don’t necessarily always care, but we should
  • We have all seen them
  • Let’s look behind the curtain and see what the magician has been doing….
  • The team must be happy right?
    The stakeholders are happy, the project was a success!
    It must have been a great team
  • Sounds simple, takes us back to the principle – supply and demand
  • You may be heartless
    But you probably care about the quality
    Do you want to loose your staff?

    Dah dah! Your staff have vanished!
  • Hopefully you don’t want to loose staff, but maybe you don’t care
    Let’s strip it back to the fundamental level

    Loosing that knowledge is hard to replace
  • Even if they don’t leave, what’s the impact on the culture of the organisation?
  • Not so magical, our project manager – it’s not even a clever trick!
    Even worse if they believe they really are a wizard!

    But it can still be a temptation – remember the adulation the project manager got?
  • As PMs, why shouldn’t we?

    For someone who pulls off the impossible, there is always a bigger trick – people will expect it.
    You start our with a rabbit from the hat
    If you can do it with 10% less resource than you need, why not 20%?
    Take it to the eventual conclusion

    So there are plenty of problems with just driving people to complete a project
    Getting people to do more time
    So what’s the alternative
  • Sustainable project delivery an alterative
    I don’t mean sustainable like this - green, hippy
  • We want to assess the impact of our actions on our longer term programmes of work

    So this means the people, but it also means relationships with suppliers, customers
  • Yeah, so don’t be like our fraudulent magician
    Remembering the value of people to the organisation
    But also don’t ignore the signs that people are over worked – maybe they say they can give you 4 days a week, but what else are they commited to?

    As a project manager, make it your mission to understand the challenges people in the team face
    By helping them, you help the project

    Arrange for them to be taken off other projects, work flexibly, pick up some lunch

    This helps build the culture, but we have other things to tackle
  • This helps build the culture, but we have other things to tackle

    Let’s go back to our nightmare project
    Not enough people
    Not enough time

    Well, we know that there is an imbalance of supply and demand!
  • Our classic constraint triangle

    We know our time is fixed
    Not enough people – a cost constraint
    Quality and scope could vary

    Simple way of thinking about this is – fast, good, cheap, pick any two!
  • Is not about appearing with a wand or a whip
    Appearing to work a miracle at a hidden cost

    Being willing to tackle the difficult problems
  • To address the difficult question – what can you really have – how do you present these?

    Understand your project
    Present the options – higher cost, longer, less scope

    No magic bullet to this, having the communication skills and the guts to deal in reality

    Have done your groundwork
    Understand the detail, be able to back up what you say and the team
  • No hat required, far more impressive

    To communicate and bring the stakeholders with you, to make the right decision and see it through

    Deliver real value in the long run, sustainably

Transcript

  • 1. @Waterstonsltd www.waterstons.com The Magical Project Manager Daniel Halliday July 2014
  • 2. PRINCE 2 Lean Project Management Agile Project Management Frameworks
  • 3. Managing Risk Communication Planning Managing a Business Case Activities Cross by Richard Schumann from The Noun Project
  • 4. Back to Basics: What is a project? Has a beginning and end Brings together people for a specific purpose Has specific goals Usually has time/cost limits
  • 5. Our story begins with a project….. …a nightmare project Scream by Uriel Sosa from The Noun Project
  • 6. What type of nightmare? Complex Not enough time Not enough people ‘Must happen’
  • 7. How to achieve the impossible?
  • 8. A hero rises… Icon by James Keuning from The Noun Project
  • 9. Fear not! Icon by James Keuning from The Noun Project Scream by Uriel Sosa from The Noun Project
  • 10. The impossible achieved! Icon by James Keuning from The Noun Project Applause by Hum from The Noun Project
  • 11. How was it done Question by P.J. Onori from The Noun Project
  • 12. What do we know about magicians? They don’t do magic They perform tricks
  • 13. The Project Team Sad by Nadir Balcikli from The Noun Project
  • 14. Tool of Choice Magic Wand by John from The Noun Project Whip by Yevgeniy Osovets from The Noun Project
  • 15. Mechanics of a trick: Back to Basics Projects require work People carry out work To deliver a project you need enough people for the work
  • 16. Mechanics of a trick: Back to Basics Supply vs. Demand Supply = People x Availability x Duration Supply = People x Availability x Duration Supply = People x Availability x Duration Icon by James Keuning from The Noun Project
  • 17. False Availability “Just suck it up” “You’re not being a team player” “We have no choice; we have to do it” “JFDI”
  • 18. Impact: a vanishing trick A few late nights…. A few more…. Drop in quality…. Unhappy staff…. No staff at all!
  • 19. The Cost People will have gained a lot of knowledge … on the business … about the system can you afford to loose them?
  • 20. Long term Maybe your staff don’t leave… They feel burnt Reluctant to take on the next project Become cynical
  • 21. It’s not a great trick Anyone can do this Magician or slave driver? Icon by James Keuning from The Noun Project
  • 22. There is always a bigger trick “after you pull a blue whale from the hat… there’s this trick called sawing a lady in half” What You Need to Know about Project Management p148 ISBN: 978-0857081315
  • 23. An Alternative Sustainable Project Delivery Tree by Humberto Pornaro from The Noun Project Cross by Richard Schumann from The Noun Project
  • 24. Sustainable Delivery Principles 1. We want to deliver projects today, tomorrow and beyond 2. We understand the value of people, their knowledge, skills and contribution to success 3. We want to build a long term culture of successful delivery
  • 25. Staying Sustainable: Assessing Value Assess value and cost for this project the next the one after
  • 26. Staying Sustainable: People So don’t use a whip… Don’t ignore the signs People can be eager to please Understand your people Help them to help the project
  • 27. Staying Sustainable: Deal in facts Complex Not enough time Not enough people ‘Must happen’ Scream by Uriel Sosa from The Noun Project Complex Not enough time Not enough people ‘Must happen’
  • 28. Staying Sustainable: Deal in facts Triangle by Pierre TORET from The Noun Project CostTime Scope Quality
  • 29. Real Magic… Icon by James Keuning from The Noun Project
  • 30. Staying Sustainable: Deal in facts
  • 31. No hat required
  • 32. Keep in Touch…. daniel.halliday@waterstons.com @WaterstonsLtd www.waterstons.com
  • 33. Join us…. GETTING THE BEST FOR YOUR BUSINESS: REAL WORLD SYSTEM SELECTION Friday 18th July, 11:45am, Durham