Saturday, May 26, 2007

Successful Project Management: Technical & People Skills

21-23 May 2007 @ IPAM
Project Management: Initiation > Planning > Execution

One conclusion upon completion of the workshop:

Project management is everybody's business - irregardless of the role we play in the project. We may not be in the decision-making role, but being able understand the stages, it makes the implementation of the project easier - as we own a part of it. Looking back, our baseline projects would have yield better outcomes if we know how to manage it - right from the beginning OR was it an assumption that everybody knows what to do? I thought, the process helps in smoothening the journey of any project that we are going to embark on, it's also the thinking process - to set sight on the deliverables (and the goals) and to anticipate and how best to manage the risk - as said in the workshop, when we don't manage the project, the project will manage us... and we'll ended up firefighting - which I think it's what's happening now.
Some learning points
1. Sigmund S Curve
It's the first time I come across this curve. But an interesting one - that according to Miti (the trainer) research has shown that it applies to almost all situations - be it in life sciences on organisms or businesses - to describe the development over time. Here it goes:

As such, it is good to assess where the project is or where the organisation is at, hence getting a better idea and understanding on the current situation in the organisation. This also addresses to some of our unknown fear/uncomfort. For instance, it is quite natural that an organisation will reach a stagnant stage (either remain as a plateau or start to experience a dip) after sometime. And in the process of exploring and problem solving the current situation, we will probably be seen as 'losing' in terms of resources. In fact, this reminds me of what Mrs Cheng once said, no matter how good technology is, in its initial stage, we expect will expect a dip before we start climbing up the curve - the learning curve could be steep, could be gentle, depending on lots of existing facts. Now, I get it! She's referring to the S curve. On the other hand, how many school leaders are willing to see that dip and willing to take a risk (having the belief that it'll bounce back and grow to greater heights?) - I remember she added, let's try to minimise the amount of dip.


2. Triple constraints

Something that seems so simple (do not be deceived by it!) yet can generate such profound concepts and ideas!

This triangle explains how the 3 critical elements 'controls' the management and quality of a project. In fact, as far as one moves, at least one other element will change. Of course, there are occasions when both will change.

1st thing 1st: Always find out what's the drivin constraint, that is the one that cannot change.

Thumb of the rule: Know what can change and what can't change - in order to establish the ground for negotiation.

The example that caught my attention is the A380 case, in which giant airbus was delayed several times... as Quality is all above any elements, therefore the amount of financial re$ource$, the amount of time (extension) and the scope (the extent of testing) all have to change in order to uphold quality (ie. Safety). As a result, I guess, this triangle has actually enlarged several times because of the course of development.

The triple constraint triangle also comes in useful when we have to negotiate for resources. For instance, for a project that has a hard deadline (ie. Time is non-negotiable), then if the Scope is to be expanded, it will automatically affect the Cost (assuming that, and at all times, Quality has to be assured and therefore cannot be comprised in anyway). Of course, when a project scope is asked to be broadened or changed, it will have an impact in the cost and time.

The succes of project management is based on the objective(s) of the project and how its triple constraint come in place. Project management success does not necessarily lead to product success. A project is time-bounded. It comes with a START and END date.

Another term introduced is the "Project Sponsor". There's a difference in the role of Project Sponsor and Project Manager.


3. Leadership Competency

This was briefly discussed when we touched on the critical competencies of a project leader. The conclusion is: SOFT skills outweighs technical skills.

(a) The different types of quotients: IQ, EQ, AQ (adversity) and CQ (cultural). In fact, CQ seems to be a pretty new concept - that means understanding the culture and hence knowing how to fit the right strategy in the environment. CQ is dependent on who drives the culture in the organisation/team. It comes in different level: Corporate culture, Country culture and Individual culture. In fact, think about it, it is not something new. In preparing us for our overseas assignment, the SVO team actually brought us to a ulu-ulu village in JB to experience a different kind of culture there - where the mindset and behaviour of the locals are quite different from the urban creatures (ie. us). It was really a good experience, of course, that also caught us in many unprepared / at loss moments. The objective of that trip was really to prepare us mentally what are some possible setbacks and what are some things we can do to react to unknown situations in a foreign environment. Also, in the early weeks in Bhutan, in fact, the kind of support that YC gave me was important and necessary that helped me to pull through the difficulties and challenges faced. So, knowing the culture is important. 知己知彼!

(b) Project competencies where "Leadership qualities and skills" is the priority, compared to "Project Specific knowledge and skills" and "Project management knowledge and skills". In fact, "project specific knowledge and skills" is lowest because these technical skills can be easily availability and acquired.

(c) Change management skills that involves changing the mindset of people. There, it comes the circle of influence and control:

This reminds me of the circle of influence mentioned by Steven Covey in "7 Habits". In his book, he mentioned:

Circle of Influence includes things that one can influence directly whereas Circle of Concern comprises of all matters about which he or she cares, however, not within one's influence or control.

Hence, we should capitalise what we can do and expand our circle of influence instead. This, in fact, works hand in hand with the Emotional Bank Account.

4. Tools to manage the Project

5. Communication

One interesting communication activity (that I've not played before) to illustrate the importance of communicating objectives and asks to clarify when in doubt/at loss...

In fact, it once again proves that we all come with lots of assumption. As a result, we assume others understand and know what's going on, and therefore expect certain inputs or responses from the rest. This is especially important when one is at the leader position. Has the goal been clearly communicated? Have we checked the understanding? How well have everyone align their goals to the organisation's? Are we talking about the same language? Do we understand the term as what each of us have understood?


6. Stakeholders Impact Window (SIW)

This is another tool that generates a fair bit of interest. I thought this is really the tool that helps one to strategise how to garner support for the project.

Among all, it seems like Quadrant 3 is least threatening and most supportive.

Those in Quadrant 2 are going to have high and positive impact on the project and the first person to be included would be the Project Sponsor, as he's the initiator of the project! Hence, no much of energy is necessary to focus there, however we have to maintain their interest, otherwise they can easily move to Quadrant 1 and become terrorist!

The group to be given priority would be those in Quadrant 1, the 'terrorist' - as they are the ones who have high influence, and certainly can influence those in Quadrants 2 & 3, leading to a withdrawal of support.

The next group would be the Troublemakers in Quadrant 4. Though they have little or no direct influence to the project, they hold the resources! and if they feel threatened and refused to release the resources, the project will be affected!

Some ways suggested to manage users of low support:

- Roadshow: Get someone to speak to them (the change agent)

- Tell them the benefits

- Find out their concerns

No comments: