Most managers today have blinders on when it comes to solving the problems of complex projects: They are lost among the trees, and can’t see the forest for what it really is. Too many project managers are focused on the day-to-day problems of the project and have lost sight of their overall strategy. So, with KPMG telling us that nearly 70% of projects are failing to meet their goals, what’s the real solution? What’s the one thing that’s going to make the most difference?
Jay Goltz’ article in The New York Times is spot on: “[Einstein] said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Too often, I think that’s really the definition of small business. Whether it is continuing to hire the wrong people because of a bad hiring protocol, [...]
Launching a global project presents many problems that are completely foreign to most project leaders and managers. Last month I pointed out that we have to deal with a lot more than language barriers with global projects. For example, in some cultures, speaking openly is not to be expected, in any setting. For this second installment, I thought I’d share a few concrete ideas for tackling some of these issues, things that can make a real difference and that are easy to put into play. To keep on a theme, I’ll focus on strategies to tackle the common, core issue raised in last month’s article: communication and execution problems. One of the first things I generally want to take a close look at are the techniques and processes used to manage a project. Most of the time, they are not adequate for one reason: They weren’t designed to support a global, multi-cultural organization.
You can put your ideas to the test by putting them on trial. A very successful team building and idea vetting exercise is to literally organize a mock trail, with prosecuting and defending teams and even a jury. Not only is it fun, but it can be eye-opening: “It was one of the better things we’ve done in a long time,” says Richard D. Fain, chairman and C.E.O. of Royal Caribbean Cruises.
Launching a global project presents many problems that are completely foreign to most project leaders and managers. Understanding the cultural differences, communication differences, and interpersonal relations of a global team is only the beginning. Business environment, local regulatory and compliance issues, and international laws scratch a bit deeper, but managing a global project is more complicated than most project managers anticipate.
You are leading a star project team working on a challenging project when you noticed a particular team member spreading negativity, rumors among peers. You are afraid this negative behavior will bring whole team’s morale down. What would you do in this situation? Every individual is different, and every situation is going to require a different response, but here are a few strategies that can bring the situation back to an even keel.
Capturing lessons learned at the end of a project sounds like a great idea. Who wouldn’t want to reflect on what was done right, what could be done better, and then apply those lessons to the next project? Unfortunately, few organizations take the time to build the right kind of lessons learned system, and that means critical information is being lost.
One of the most significant risks we identify is a globally disparate (geographically separated) team. Teams working in separate regions face tremendous challenges that a co-located team doesn’t have to think about, a situation made worse when outsourcing, where conflicts in language, time, culture, and business environment all affect the organization.
Risk management has become mainstream. It’s no longer the domain of rocket scientists and actuaries. In fact, it’s become so mainstream that formal risk management practices are showing up everywhere we look. But is all this sudden attention to risk management going in the right direction? Or are recently defined risk management methods just introducing unproven, sometimes crackpot solutions into a well-understood space? Find out why Harvard Business Review found that “Most of the management tools and techniques we studied had no direct causal relationship to superior business performance.”
Get your team to write an obituary for your project — before you start the project. Make it part of your risk planning exercise. This exercise is related to the Merlin backward planning exercise and is also used in the Toyota Production System. Toyota used the obituary approach when creating their “Toyota University” program and engaged [...]