Project management offers a way to breathe new life into your organization’s competitive and operational advantage, but why is project management seemingly stuck in the engineering or scientific theory world of wonks?
Project management may look like an engineering, top-down control process, but project management is less process and more a discipline: like accounting.
Anyone familiar with accounting knows asset classification and assignment within financial statements is in no way a science or process of absolutes, but an art and a style; hence the rising need of forensic accounting and Sarbanes Oxley-like compliance.
Is the disregard for project management the secret boondoggle that helps enterprise IT vendors and chop shops hit us with cost overruns and incredible failure rates?
If project management was at the forefront of management and organization capability, we’d see more clearly the likelihood of failure before vendor selection. We could take the science and engineering away from project management and hand it to the managers across the organization, where it belongs.
Far away from a structured, mechanistic, top-down system ritual of designs, tools, methods, and procedures, project management should focus on the actors, their activities, and their process application within the environment.
For project management to become a prominent discipline we in project management and organization leadership need to move project management from a management science into a management competency.
To view this frame more clearly, let’s look at John Kotter’s, 8-Step Process for Leading Change:
Step 1: Create Urgency
Step 2: Form a Powerful Coalition
Step 3: Create a Vision for Change
Step 4: Communicate the Vision
Step 5: Remove Obstacles
Step 6: Create Short-term Wins
Step 7: Build on the Change
Step 8: Anchor the Changes in Corporate Culture
I’ve never seen anyone mistake Kotter’s “process” as a prescription for change. The 8-Step, Process is a sociological and social sciences view to change. Followed as a repeatable guideposts for change, both theoretical and methodological, but in no way a change elixir for all comers.
Organizations realize their strategies through projects; if an organization can not deliver on projects there is little hope to deliver on strategy.
Disadvantage, One Down
With many organizations looking to refresh their strategy just to survive, you can imagine project management success is critical. Why are organizations left without an elemental business competitive advantage?
The five project management Process Groups:
Mapped to the five project management process groups are the 9 project management Knowledge Areas:
- Project Integration Management
- Project Scope Management
- Project Time Management
- Project Cost Management
- Project Quality Management
- Project Human Resource Management
- Project Communications Management
- Project Risk Management
- Project Procurement Management
Project management is an integrative, complex field, reliant on systems theory’s true intent: people and environment and their independent and interacting parts. Imagine your current or future projects laid out with the above process areas and subsequent discipline built within the nine knowledge areas? You already have a head start on thoughtful project management.
Next, I will introduce a table I will return to over a series of blogs. I edited this table from brilliant paper published in the Project Management Journal, Blowing Hot and Cold on Project Management.
The 9 Schools of Project Management - Christophe N. Bredillet, Project Management Journal, Vol.41, No. 3, 4-20
|School of Project Management||Field of Management Study||Key Idea||Came to Prominence||Influence|
|Optimization||Operations Research||Optimize duration by mathematical processes||Late 1940s||Operations Research|
|Modeling||Management Science||Use of hard- and soft-systems theory to model the project||Hard systems 1950s; Soft Systems Mid-1990s||Systems theory, Soft systems methodology|
|Governance||Governance||Govern the project and the relationship between project participants||Contracts 1970s; Temporary organization Mid-1990s, Project-based organization Late-1990s||Contracts and law, governance, transaction costs, agency theory|
|Behavior||Organizational Behavior, (OB) and Human Resource Management (HRM)||Manage the relationships between people on the project||OB Mid-1970s; HRM Early 2000s||OB, HRM|
|Process||Operations Management||Find an appropriate path to the desired outcome||Late 1980s||Information systems, strategy|
|Contingency||Contingency Theory||Categorize the project type to select appropriate systems||Early 1990s||Contingency theory, leadership theory|
|Success||Strategy Management||Define success and failure, Identify causes||Mid-1980s||Internal to project management|
|Decision||Information Management||Information processing through the project life cycle||Late 1980s||Decision sciences, transaction costs|
|Marketing||Marketing||Communicate with all stakeholders to obtain their support||Stakeholders Mid-1980s; Internal marketing Mid-1990s; Value of project management Mid-2000s||Stakeholder management, governance, strategy|
The above project management schools advanced so well by Christophe N. Bredillet might give new alternatives on what to start, what to stop, and what to continue.
As Mr. Bredillet points out, The Oxford English Dictionary gives the following definition of the word “school”:
a group of people sharing common ideas or methods; a specified style, approach or method; the imitators, disciplines or followers of a philosopher, artist, etc.
Held back from the business advantage that project management provides organizations, can a simple marketing spin help project management’s competitive advantage?
A Project Management Super Bowl add?
Or is project management forever banished as the tofu of food choices – only for the most health conscious?
Project management has only recently been added to schools of management and as a branch of management. Take a look at your organization’s portfolio of current projects and potential projects being debated.
The above table introduces nine frames, models, or operational modes that project management can take in your organization.
Cut your projects across the above table, are there ways to breathe life into your choices, prune current choice, combine choices, or start more important projects with higher impact?
I look forward to revisit the above table in future posts and will expand on thoughts Mr. Bredillet has presented.