Project management methodologies – they are only guidelines

#PMCHAT is a weekly, on-line chat for Twitterers (hopefully the right term) all over the world. Anyone who is on Twitter can join in. It starts with a pre-game show where a featured person comes on – line and talks about the topic of the week.

It is held every Friday though not this week as its Thanksgiving and starts on Twitter at 5pm UK time (I know, not the best time of the day, but it is worth it…)

Last week was my first time…and it was good, fast and informative. In total we had
376 tweets which reached an audience of 30,942 followers.

It works by 4 questions being posed. The first of the questions sets the tone. This week it was:

Has PM Methodology come down to Agile vs. Waterfall or are others still in play?

There were some very interesting comments about the various methodologies and I was struck by a number of aspects:

  • we do seem wedded to our methodologies
  • jargon gets in the way- no wonder we don’t get people to support project management when we talk about waterfall, agile, scrum, etc. Plain English please
  • organisation culture are so important – what is your companies project management culture like? What is its approach to managing and dealing with change?

I left the #PMCHAT feeling reflective and was reminded a woman who attended one of our project management training courses. During the course there was a debate about the application of an aspect of the course to a project. This woman said something interesting. It is not quite verbatim, but I hope you will get the drift:

Any project management approach is like baking a cake. For some people, they will like (say) more vanilla in the cake, others will like it softer than others and some, they will like the cake ‘harder’. We need an approach that says we need more time spending on risk management or we really need to spend time looking at project estimates or we can spend less time developing the business case because it’s a legal requirement. It’s about changing the process to fit the project. The process is a guideline and only that.

Great words which I believe to be true and on courses I repeat the guidelines words above.

So, what’s your view? Should your project approach be like your taste in cake?

Find out more about #PMCHAT and the storify of last week’s chat. The next chat is on Friday 2 December at 5pm London time.

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2 Responses to Project management methodologies – they are only guidelines

  1. Josh says:

    I think the basic metaphor of baking a cake is a solid one for project management, but I’d suggest a slight variation. Baking, in general, is probably the most rigid cooking activity; you have to get the ratios of baking soda, flour, butter, etc. almost exactly right or you end up with a “failed project.”

    I think that project management has more wiggle room to achieve success (and more shades of gray). It’s more like cooking a dinner for family and friends. You’ll need to have good recipes, ingredients, and preparation. Once you begin cooking, you’ve got to be adaptable and coordinate and time a lot of different dishes and sides, all while keeping in mind your guests’ dietary needs and preferences.

    • Ron Rosenhead says:

      Thanks for this Josh.

      I think you don’t know the Rosenhead family! I asked a few family members about cooking generally (including cakes) and they all said the same thing; you add a bit of this and a bit of that…….

      I will use any metaphor to ensure that messages get across and yes, I have used the meal as one. I tell the story in my student days of preparing a 3 course meal:

      1st course; carrots
      2nd course: peas
      3rd course: my meat pie

      I could not, as you point out, co-ordinate the 3 ‘courses’ to arrive at the same time. I’m much better now but there is still room for improvement.

      Thanks Josh.

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