What goes before comes round again

If you’ve always managed a project in a certain way; and those projects are not as successful as they might be; then you are Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. You’re the person who has had the same years’ experience 5, 10 or 15 times.

Why is it that you’re so unlucky with your projects? No doubt, a super-high-importance demo came up and you ended up not having the resources available to pursue the critical path. Sure, some external factors will stop you from delivering, but if the type of failure is always the same; the customer isn’t satisfied because feature X isn’t delivered on time, or the overall quality isn’t acceptable; then this is all still a management issue.

What do you need to do to manage a project successfully? The glib answer would be to tell you to implement methodology X, Y or Z; but this isn’t the answer. The answer is, it depends; much as it always is.

Are you allowing the team to deliver the project? Given a project of sufficient complexity then you have to limit the distractions for the team doing the project; you’re setting the project up to fail if your lead developer is also the person running the country office, or members of the team don’t have a clear directive around what their focus should be. In any sufficiently large company there will always be competing forces on time; a mixture of the tactical - ”I need you help me prepare for a big sales demo next week” or perhaps even the mundane - ”you have to complete an HSE assessment this week”.

If you don’t have time for a project retrospective; then you aren’t critically examining the project outcome. Everyone will have an opinion on what caused the project deadlines to slip; what went well; and what ultimately caused the outcome. Fingers will be pointed, perhaps there will be shouting, but this doesn’t matter. You need data; given enough project retrospectives you will soon get an idea of what needs to be changed in order to achieve a better outcome. At that point it will become clear what needs to be done.

Your productivity is measured by your team’s productivity; so you have to make sure that you are allowing them to perform to the best of their abilities.

If you keep doing the same things you’ll just get what you always gotten.

originally posted on medium

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