1. “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” (Benjamin Franklin)
A recent book by Andy Crowe (Alpha Project Managers: What the Top 2% Know that Everyone Else Does Not) reveals that of a study of over 850 Project Managers, those who were the most successful spent twice as much time planning as did their peers. Invest the time – it will pay off in dividends in terms of risk mitigation, team coordination. and better quality deliverables.
2. “Tell me how you measure me, I’ll tell you how I behave.” (Dr. E.M. Goldratt)
Dr. Goldratt was a pioneer in thinking about Project Management. He wrote numerous business novels, including The Goal, the Theory of Constraints, and The Haystack Syndrome, from which the quote is taken (p. 26). During a recent consulting job, I found myself repeating this phrase with regularity. The company was keen to institute better and more robust planning principles, but found the implementation to be difficult. One of the key things we discussed was to change how people were held accountable for good planning. The key is to choose a handful of the right metrics to help you achieve the desired results.
3. “A different result demands a different approach.” (Eve Cran)
Project performance will continue on the same trajectory unless management makes a change. I am often surprised when Project Managers review project performance metrics and expect them to improve in the future even though nothing has changed with regard to processes or personnel. If what you’re doing right now does not achieve the desired results, then you’ll need to try something different.
4. “What you don’t know will hurt you.” (Unknown)
This quote is handy to remember because it relates to two Project Management Institute Knowledge Areas: Project Communications Management and Project Risk Management. Ask for the bad news and don’t shoot the messenger. Create an environment where people feel safe to bring risks, fears, and worrybeads to your attention so they can be captured and addressed (as appropriate).
5. “Perfection is the enemy of on time and on budget performance.” (Eve Cran)
People tend to use all available time to complete a task rather than handing the deliverable to the next person in the schedule as soon as it is completed. Their intent is admirable: they want to polish, re-read, re-check or re-word the deliverable. However, this practice means the project is – at best – on time and on cost. If anything should cause the task owner to delay his or her handoff to the next person – illness, machine breakdown etc. — the schedule will slip. This almost always leads to increased execution cost. Handoffs should occur as soon as deliverables meet the requisite quality standards.