My earliest organization builds were Project Management Offices (PMO’s). Bring a bunch of project managers (PMs) together and what do you get? A lot of process- and checklist-happy people.
While I certainly believe in process, and checklists can be helpful, they also provide a very real danger to those that use them.
What could possibly be dangerous about checklists? And aren’t processes, vs approaching everything willy nilly, a good thing? What is there to be afraid of?
I fear but one thing. The sense of security they can provide.
Projects – by definition – are a unique endeavor, with a defined start and end, that result in something new (product, service, etc).
While every project is unique, the steps that we use to execute them are often similar. The reason why standardized processes and checklists frequently work and are sought after are due to those similarities.
I was at an industry event this past week, spending time with executives across large and small insurance carriers. We were there to talk about the business of insurance and how technology plays a key role in that business. As a result, the executives crossed a variety of business and technical roles. A VP of Claims, a CIO, and maybe a Senior Director of Strategy all at the same table. And in the middle of it all was me…the only PMO-type in the room.
I spent the weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway watching motorcycle racing. Talking to the racers, I was struck by the similarities between the racing circuit and project management.
Anything worth doing is worth doing well. When it comes to racing, doing things well can make the difference between a spectacular finish and a spectacular crash. The process racers go through to be competitive provides insight that can be leveraged by new project managers as they mature in the role.
If you are naturally goal-oriented, then achieving success could be as simple as deciding you want something and then going after it. But what if you are not naturally goal-oriented?
I believe that anyone can achieve great things, using interim goals and incentives as a way to move forward along a challenging path. The trick is – not anyone can use just any incentive. You have to find the right one(s) for you.
A few facts about me before we begin…
1. I am somewhat obsessive
2. I love movies
3. 1+2 = a need to watch the same movies over and over
My husband used to love Star Wars. Then we got married and the fact that I love the original (A New Hope), and can watch it any time day or night, basically killed it for him. When my son turned four, I couldn’t wait any longer and started letting him watch the movie. He will watch the same movies over and over, like mom, and I missed having a movie buddy. Lest anyone be completely horrified, I do hide his eyes at certain points.
As a project manager, I find Star Wars particularly fascinating. There are many lessons embedded in the storyline of what to do, and even more on what NOT to do, as a project manager. Today, I thought I’d share my views on General Tarkin, the only guy other than the Emperor to give Darth Vader orders.