Although the economy is improving, it doesn’t appear that organizations are inclined to expect less from project teams or project managers. I don’t think there’s any question that the role of project managers is changing in most organizations, and the need to do more with limited resources will continue to be a priority.
Because of these economic realities, project leaders need to look at projects in the context of all work, along with adopting a more flexible (or agile with a small “a”) approach to managing toward objectives. Rather than asking whether or not Agile, Waterfall, Six Sigma or any other methodology is best, we must determine which method is the “best” for any given project and ensure that we are working on the “right” projects in the first place.
I don’t think anyone would disagree that we need to look at the administrative burden associated with complex project plans and determine what can be eliminated and what must be maintained, so project leaders and project teams can focus on managing work to successful outcomes. If, as I’ve mentioned before, 20-55 percent of project requirements are really unnecessary, reducing or eliminating that burden on projects and project teams seems critical to me. Although there are projects where governance is mandated and important, I don’t believe that can be said of every project.
Our focus as project leaders must be on producing value (which may be different for every project). Nonetheless, projects are initiated in the first place because someone within the organization perceives that the outcome will produce some kind of value—whether or not it’s a cost saving project, an income-generating project, or some other anticipated value. What’s more, depending upon the project manager’s role within his or her organization, they may or may not have much input into this discussion now, but that does not mean that they shouldn’t have that input.
Regardless of your current role, the world is looking for project leaders who are willing to seize the opportunity to do more than simply follow a prescribed process, they are looking for people who actually lead project teams to consistently produce organizational value. The need for agile project leaders has never been more prevalent than it is now. It’s up to us to create that role in our organizations, if it doesn’t already exist. Project teams and project leaders in particular should be where organizations look for future leaders. After all, projects are where people are tried by decision-making and leadership fire.
To do this, we need to put aside our preconceived notions of project management methodology and become more agile (with the small “a”), or ultimately wind up in the figurative cemetery.
Please share what you’re doing to incorporate flexibility into your work management methodology.