Category Archives: Leadership

Resurrecting the Project Manager Role

Resurrecting the Project Manager Role

I stopped and blinked at a headline on a Linked In post and choked back a chuckle.

It was titled ‘The Death of The Project Manager’.

The provocative title (for project people, that is) did its work. I clicked in.

The author, a professor named Andre Barcaui, suggests that the increasing use of the Agile approach with a ‘flat’ team dynamic – ‘team leads’ swapped out for guiding ‘coaches’ –  is part of the decline of the project manager’s role.

The second part is the rise of AI (artificial intelligence) and its ability to crunch data sets and proffer logical outcomes and conclusions. Theoretically, this leads to one logical outcome.

He also suggests that decisions made from ‘instinct’ may be not just outdated but even harmful.

And there you have it: ‘The death of the project manager.’

To which I say, “Hold on Huxley, that’s a huge stretch”.

But first a caveat. Christina “CK” Kerley, a top technology futurist, suggests in her speeches and sessions that we want technology to take over tasks – those tasks that require lots of processing but little judgement.

I love having data crunched by tech. That allows me to do critical thinking, the creative problem-solving that is the sweet spot of any project manager or team. There are absolutely large data sets that I am happy to have crunched and parsed for me.

But that isn’t what the article suggests. It sees a world where leaders are replaced by a sort of group dynamic.

Nice try. Groups and teams are essential to the development and production of a project but there always needs to be one that takes the lead and ultimate responsibility for the process and end result.

In practical terms in the scenario by Barcaui, there would be a room full of well-meaning people on deadline day pointing fingers at each other for the failure to deliver. Blaming the AI will never get anyone very far.

The role of the project manager gone?

If you agree that the project manager’s leadership means more than creating massive archives of records, and you agree team dynamics, the culture of the team’s productivity and progress, are primary responsibilities of the leadership role of the project manager, I would suggest that the opposite is true.

Better tools mean the best project leaders will shine, and a project team will stay tightly focused on the process and deadline.

If you believe that how your people shine as project leaders counts, please sign up for KSP Academy where leadership driven project management respects people – and uses tools and methodologies.


Is Happiness at Work Over-Rated?

Is Happiness at Work Over-Rated?

After reading an article from a Robert Half newsletter that I saved in my ‘to post-fodder’ file, I starting thinking about the whole subject from a different angle.  The article’s main suggestions state there are:

  • universal factors that affect workplace happiness
  • unique elements that drive joy for each age group, experience level and industry
  • a link between happiness and performance

This connected in my mind with the book ‘Drive’ by Daniel Pink. He outlines the changes in thinking regarding motivation. Pink’s research into what makes motivation work now versus the old carrot and stick approach is interesting. And it took my curiosity down to this question:

What is the link between what you can call happiness or what I would call motivated performance, and productive performance? And do you need happiness in the workplace or fulfillment?

Just semantics, you say?

I would argue no.  The way that people interpret words ultimately decides what that word means for each of them – and for each of them as they connect with the person who said it. Clearly defining anything in a practical sense includes context.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary: (for brevity I’ve shortened the actual definitions – you can find the full definitions in the hyperlinks)

happiness /ˈhapɪnəs  /
noun [mass noun] the state of being happy:

Hmm. So let’s go one step further with this one.

happy /ˈhapi  /
adjective
(happier, happiest)
1 feeling or showing pleasure or contentment:
2 [attributive] fortunate and convenient:
3 [in combination] informal inclined to use a specified thing excessively or at random:

And now let’s look at the other side of the question:

fulfilment /fʊlˈfɪlmənt  / (US fulfillment)
noun [mass noun]
1 the achievement of something desired, promised, or predicted:
2 the meeting of a requirement, condition, or need:

As leaders, project managers are held to high standards – and some of the highest come from within ourselves. One of those high standards is how we work at keeping a balance between what the people on our teams need and what the project needs from our people.

Which do you think we have the strongest responsibility to help our teams develop – happiness or fulfillment?

If you find these types of discussions interesting, if you enjoy stretching your ideas around leadership, join our video academy and continue the conversation (and collect PDU’s)!


Why Negotiation…

Running Project Management workshops, I turn a few heads by suggesting additional skill sets for Project Managers.

Negotiations, Public Speaking and Sales usually don’t show up as required skills for Project Managers. They should.

Why negotiation…

Consider this: Project Leaders have to deal with conflict – in the team and with the stakeholder community. It’s to be expected. Bright people have various ways of communicating with others and, since that means you, it means you need to be ready to take on the role of peacemaker.

Conflict resolution is negotiation. Getting people to agree to a way forward is negotiation. And, let’s face it, you know how important it is to ensure a project stays on track.

The bottom line is this: Enhancing your team’s skill levels is a key part of being a strong leader. Adding negotiation to their array of skills is essential to their development as a team and your skill at managing.

Your team is the most valuable aspect of every project. Tapping into their growth potential is key to smoothing the bumps on the road to completion.

Grow your skills at leadership-driven project management with easy, action oriented videos – join the Leadership Driven Project Management On-Line Academy.

Learning, PDUs and fun! KSP Leadership Driven Project Management Academy.


What is the Foundation for Your Leadership’s Strength?

What is the foundation for your leadership’s strength?

Recently there was a splash in the news about someone whose leadership is based in fear. People were informed that their jobs were on the line if they sided with facts and science over statements – true or not – based on the source of those statements.

If that person’s leadership is founded on fear of consequences if crossed there will continue to be strongly worded editorials and quietly expressed concern about the impact this will have.

So what is your leadership founded on?

KSP’s leadership driven project management is founded on the principle that leadership of any project team can be based on many different things. We suggest a basis of mutual trust and the establishment of safety will, in the end, be more productive – and therefore more profitable – than a basis of fear and negative consequences.

In her book ‘The Non-Obvious Guide to Emotional Intelligence’ Kerry Goyette suggests that negatively based motivational approaches might, in fact, torpedo the very progress you are trying to achieve!

Interested in learning more about a leadership driven model for high performing project teams?

Contact us at kziemski@ksppartnership.com and schedule a fast assessment of how your teams’ dynamics can affect your project’s ultimate performance.


A Key to Organizational Focus

A Key to Organizational Focus

A common cause for resource conflict lies in understanding the answer to a deceptively simple question: how much is enough?

A staff member may become an overachiever in an attempt to please his or her boss, or to satisfy their own pride by applying ‘more’ to a project than it deserves.

An electrical engineer may try to make an amplifier “just a bit more sensitive,” or an IT specialist may keep working to get a few more messages per second out of a processor. These are both examples of work that doesn’t deliver any appreciable benefit to the company.

A good project manager must know when to push for more performance and when to stop and move onto the next activity. This type of judgement call is how organizations’ financial and marketplace health either thrive or start a downward spiral.

Measurements and metrics offer everyone clear guidelines for balancing project objectives.

When you offer clear and specific metrics, you enhance the project designer’s ability to develop a project plan that supports the organization.

A favorite framework that accommodates the iterative approach of Agile or Scrum lays out three achievement levels for organizational or project objectives. These include:  minimum, target, and stretch metrics as defined below:

Minimum

Minimum acceptable metrics tell project designers the lowest acceptable value for an objective. They may drop to this measurement under pressure to achieve balance in other areas. By definition, if the project or product cannot meet this minimum criterion, the project should be rejected or abandoned.

Target

The target metric represents the strategic plan’s goals for the area. Once this target is achieved, project designers can focus on other areas. The target metric is the normal, steady-state metric portfolio and project designers should attempt to achieve it.

Stretch

Stretch metrics are objectives the organization strives to achieve to capture innovative ideas or unplanned opportunities. Frequently, these may represent upper limits that the project designer should not exceed to prevent overloading the resource pool. Achieving stretch metrics should not be the norm. If every project designer attempted to achieve stretch metrics, resource shortages would impair the chances of strategic success.

This model can be employed for all of the categories of objectives: schedule, cost, resource, technical, and quality.

Establishing a framework for balanced objectives allows you to distribute resources based on strategic direction, keeping the entire organization moving ahead.

A company has only so many resources. A good project manager ensures that resources saved in one area are more effectively used in another.


Upcoming Events

  • Negotiations - A Critical Competency October 22, 2019 Chicago, IL
  • Leading Teams to Better Decision Making November 7, 2019 New Jersey, USA
  • Influencing Skills December 3, 2019 Private webinar
  • Influencing Skills December 4, 2019 Private webinar

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