Project Management Resolutions for 2014

resolutions-catIt’s that time again folks.  New Year’s Resolutions. Been a few years since we did project management new year’s resolutions, so here’s what I am offering up based on this year’s project experiences.

1Make change management integral to your project management methodology. If it’s considered a separate discipline, it can often get left by the wayside with disastrous results. It’s the project manager’s responsibility to make sure that there are tasks in the plan that pertain to the people-readiness for the go-live of any project.

2. Document meetings in project artifacts, then link or copy into minimalist meeting notes. Back in 2010, we talked about limiting meeting attendance, let’s talk today about eliminating or minimizing meeting minutes. The way to do this is to parse the meeting content directly into project artifacts. Actions go in an action log and issues go in an issues log or register or whatever your flavor of project management calls it.

3. Simplify. Simplify ruthlessly.  Instead of adding to your methodology, look for ways to streamline it and cut it back. You may find that you get better adoption of your pm methodology when less is more. The trick is in knowing where and when less is appropriate.

4. Broaden your knowledge base. Read new and different blogs and books, delve into business journals, neoroscience, leadership, psychology, sociology and other seemingly peripheral topics. You would be surprised at the creativity it sparks in your thinking and approach to your projects.  My favorite ways to do this include:

5. Embrace new tools.  The rumble from the trenches is starting to include disatisfaction with MS Project as the be-all and end-all of project management tools. Have you looked into alternatives yet? Sometimes it’s actually simpler to manage projects with Excel.   Are you using social media effectively to manage, motivate and communicate with your project teams? Be especially alert for tools that can help you simplify to achieve resolution #3.

Let’s grow this list:

  • How are you looking to change the way you manage projects in 2014?
  • What new tools are you going to explore?
  • What’s on your reading list?

Change Management Lessons from the Animal Kingdom

My recreational reading this week has been Temple Grandin‘s Animals Make Us Human. (Don’t worry, it’s not another animal post from Skeptechal!) I’ve found lots of great insights that will help me figure out why my cat behaves in ways that have been puzzling (although I am sure she will keep me guessing). Some of the lessons from the animal world are really reshaping some of my entrenched thinking about organizational change management.

Much of Grandin’s approach to more humane animal handling boils down to preventing the rage, fear and panic responses, and promoting seeking (curiosity) and play behaviors.

When we think about some of the typical overt and inadvertent messages that many companies release in the course of launching a big business initiative (be it a new ERP system, an acquisition, or an internal reorganization) we see much that is likely to press those rage, fear and panic buttons right out of the gate.  Once these responses are in play, they are difficult to quell:
rage

Welcome to the core team! You will need to spend 20 hours per week for the next nine months getting our new software ready for release. We know you will be able to work this into your schedules along with your current day job.

fear

Here is the course outline for your job role (5 pages, 55 unique system tasks). We have one training session for your group (53 people), with 1 hour allotted this Thursday.

 

panic

We haven’t had time to complete the testing but we only have a small launch window, so we are going live this weekend as originally planned.

You get the idea.

What if we approached things differently….and used early messages and techniques to promote curiosity and made even a small effort to make things fun:

  • Instead of the typical big bang kickoff (complete with bulky boring  slide deck) use internal social media tools like Yammer and Sharepoint to build excitement — dropping hints about how things will change for the better, without revealing all the details.
  • Use gamification and crowdsourcing to augment formal software QA processes, rewarding people for completing their test cases on time, or naming winners for finding the must bugs
  • Show users how to interact with the new system to get answers to their everyday questions BEFORE teaching them to plow through lengthy transactions

If we turn on the seeking and play behaviors first, we may have a good shot at keeping fear, panic and rage to a minimum.