As much as we'd all like to believe there is a silver bullet (or project management tool) that would help us better execute projects and improve the efficiencies of our project teams, I'm not sure it really exists. I'm also unconvinced that any particular methodology includes some kind of mythological power to engage teams, focus their efforts or plan and execute efficiently. Ultimately it boils down to how project leaders interact with the team, how they manage the process of getting work done and how well they utilize the tools at their disposal.
Although I may have some of the same tools a carpenter or master mechanic might use, I am neither a great carpenter or anything other than a novice mechanic. It's not the tools, it's knowing how to best use the tools that makes the craftsman.
After taking a long weekend to get away and recharge the batteries, it's good to be sitting at the computer again. Over the course of my career, I've discovered that sometimes it's very good to step away, relax for a day or two and focus on something other than work. I've also noticed that to be true for project teams.
Over the last couple of years in particular, I've noticed that most teams jump from one project to another without so much as taking time to breath. I think we should all take a cue from Agile teams.
Steve Bather commented on a post from the other day about simplification. He reminded me of a story I had heard a couple of years ago about Dr. Atul Gwande, a NY heart surgeon who has been successfully implementing a checklist into the operating room. The NPR story talked about some research he had done at the Harvard Medical School. I found the article very interesting, I think you will too.
"Our great struggle in medicine these days is not just with ignorance and uncertainty," Gawande says. "It's also with complexity: how much you have to make sure you have in your head and think about. There are a thousand ways things can go wrong."
I don't think it really matters whether your a Republican or a Democrat, it's interesting to watch the implosion of the current Republican primary and not ask if this is a struggling project doomed to fail. Sometimes recognizing when good ideas have gone bad requires that we pull the plug before before too many resources are wasted and there's no way to save the project.
It's not uncommon for project stakeholders to disagree on the focus of any given project, sometimes making it difficult to zero in on objectives and outcomes. I wonder if that's what's going on with this year's primary season?
If you've been reading this blog for any time at all, you know that I'm a big fan of empowering employees so they can perform at their best. When I noticed Grant Derner's article, 5 Keys to Empowering Employees, I had to click on the link. Kindred spirits, both Grant and I believe that today's workforce wants to contribute to something bigger than themselves and longs to be managed by dynamic leaders who can share the passion and vision for what they're doing. When this happens within an organization, your have companies like Apple, Nike and Electronic Arts creating products that define markets and energize their customers.
I think the same thing can happen within any project teams. Here are Derner's 5 Keys: