The lessons of project management; they go with the rubbish?

I must have around 12 metres of shelving in my office and I decided it was time for a good clear out. So, I took valuable time out and started to move a lot of ‘old stuff’.

I pulled down old files. I found some long lost material and I piled up a lot of files to go for recycling along with their contents. Being an inquisitive soul I started to look through all the old files on the floor. Some of them were at least 10 years old and included papers from many of the conferences I attended. I sat on the floor with my cup of tea and imagine my surprise that the very issues we are talking about today were being talked about nearly 10 years ago. I came across material on:

  •  the role of the sponsor
  •  change and project management – how to make both work more effectively
  •  how to manage stakeholders more effectively
  •  programme management – what it can do for us all and how to structure it in a company
  •  benefits management, why it is so important and the need to clearly identify what the real benefits will be

I sometimes get these streaks of pessimism and while sat on the floor I had one of my bouts!

I should not be surprised that the issues of today were around some 10 years ago. It confirms my view that project management has not moved as far forward as I and many of my colleagues would like. Too many projects, too many of the same mistakes, companies throwing money away or misusing their resources (if only their share holders knew what was going on….).

The era of the learning organisation was heralded many years ago however I have to question whether this is the case. Are organisations really learning from their mistakes? If yes, why are so many projects still delivered late or over budget? Why do so many projects fail to meet client needs?

I recently finished a two day project management for a client. Reviewing the two days with the group one person said what they had gone through was applied common sense; why he queried do senior managers not apply it?

Now, there is a question?

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One Response to The lessons of project management; they go with the rubbish?

  1. Amen. I’m at the PMI Global Congress in Denver, just getting ready to catch a ride to the airport and leave. Most of what I heard is common sense. Execution has always been the problem. It makes me wonder how many project managers sitting with me in the room are going to go back to work and actually implement what is being presented.

    I was just in a presentation that presented control and results as directly linked. I spoke up about just talking to your people on a regular basis in a 1-1 as being the best control mechanism, in part because you can tailor your level of control to the individual. Some people have earned the right to be very autonomous, and with those people you want to collect status at a high level and let them do what they do best. For people who have not earned it, you need to get into the details more.

    Bottom line, nothing comes from theory unless it is practiced. And how can theory advance if the practice doesn’t advance with it?

    Josh Nankivel

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