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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

There Is No Perfect Process. Why? People.

     There is no limit to the varieties of Project Management methodologies out there, but they all share a couple of characteristics: Assurance in the presentation that this is the approach that accounts for everything, and that it works.
     Some of the books and programs also tell you further that this is the only design that really works. And there are some that ascribe inherent flaws to competing formulations, thereby highlighting the claimed superiority of their own.
     None of this is true.
     Here’s why: No Project Management process runs itself. Every single one requires the addition of human beings, and most people do not co-exist well with process.
     Process is useful and dependable only to the extent that it is reliable. We have to know that predetermined actions and investments will produce predictable outcomes. If you never know how things are going to come out, you can’t depend upon the process. Can’t operate projects that way.
     In fact, people depend upon assured process outcomes. Uncertainty kills confidence and committed effort.
     The fatal human flaw, though, is that most people do not perform like well-tuned machines. Performance tends to wobble a bit, or veer more than a bit – or, on occasion, simply fail. Humans lose interest, lose focus; sometimes they just get irritated with the same-old/same-old, and become sloppy.

     But then the opposite also is true. The human talents for invention, innovation and extraordinary effort can save the day when process breaks down or runs into an unpredictable situation. 
     The essence of true Project Management is its daunting combination of known process, uncertainty and risk, dependence upon uncontrollable factors and people – in an environment of time pressure and resource limitation.
     All that being true, it takes a certain kind of person to handle signification project responsibilities. There must be imagination and sound judgment in designing the Project Plan, discipline in implementing and managing the plan, continuous close attention to tracking and correcting performance, effective problem-solving and communication management.
     In leading that effort, the Project Manager must be able to develop and maintain mutually beneficial relationships with senior executives who exercise control over important elements, with functional managers who must support the project, and with Project Team members whose connections to the Project – however vital to its success – are essentially dotted-line relationships from their permanent positions.
     So the fraught interface of process and people is tended by a Project Manager who has plenty of defined tasks besides, closely defined deliverables that cannot be allowed to slip into variance . . . however much they tend to do so.

     The Project Manager can be sure only that things will not turn out as planned – or as predicted by people who don’t have to make project processes work.  
The Modern Project Manager


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I am human (at least I think I am) so that makes it so.
    Unless, however, I am living within the Matrix, and not able to differentiate the program that is running that I think is me, to what I am living or think I am.