When I read this article from Gallup Management Journal, I chuckled. Having managed many projects over the last 20 years, I’ve noticed a dynamic that cannot be explained. That dynamic is the human dynamic.
You see, early on in my project management career, I had managers and colleagues espouse the value of a good project plan, mostly using MS Project, Excel and other tools. Then, as I matured, I was turned onto the “project dynamics” of having the right people in the right roles, accountability and holding people to their deadlines. Yea, right. I remember one of my project contributors who could have cared less about the deadline… the world revolved around him, his schedule and when he would “get to it”. Recently, I managed a project that technically was one of the most well run projects but the team that was involved was less than committed, not adequately skilled and not properly enthused about the results.
Thus, I have realized that there is, as Gallup states it, a “behavior-based project management” principle that is at play in all projects. Just think about this: if you’re building on an addition to a house, what is it that makes it successful? It is likely that you and your spouse want the addition. The bank that is financing it wants the loan to be approved so they make money. Your contractors are equally incented and want to complete the project so they get paid. Everyone wins, right? In this case, any one of these parties who drag their feet will virtually stop the process. However, if they are adequately engaged, they will work to the common goal.
As Gallup summarizes: “the rate of failure for projects has not really decreased — and there’s a reason for that. It’s time to update project management not with more methodologies, but with more emotional content. Employees’ and stakeholders’ disengagement can make a project fail, but behavior-based management can make projects succeed.”