Monthly Archives: August 2010

Stakeholder Management Thesis

My original thesis has recently been published as a book by Lambert Academic Publishing AG & Co (www.lappublishing.com).

Details of the book are:
Project Relationship Management and the Stakeholder Circle [Paperback]
ISBN-13: 978-3838398167
Available from Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Project-Relationship-Management-Stakeholder-Circle/dp/3838398165/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1282809735&sr=1-1

The research described in my thesis underpins the Stakeholder Circle methodology and tools which led to the publication of Stakeholder Relationship Management: A Maturity Model for Organisational Implementation and the SRMM maturity model available from Gower Publishing at http://www.gowerpub.com/isbn/9780566088643

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Motivation

One of the key skills required by project managers, in fact all managers, is the ability to motivate team members and the wider stakeholder community.

Most business approaches to motivation are based on extrinsic motivators – if you achieve ‘A’ we will reward you with ‘B’ and if you are really good and make ‘2A’ we will give you ‘2B’. The theory used by business is based on the assumption the larger the reward the greater the motivation; provided basic principles such as fairness are applied and the reward is commensurate with the effort needed and expectations of the person being motivated. It is assume the increase in motivation will flow through to increased performance.

Management scientists way back to Henry Gantt had established that in the ‘carrot-and-stick’ approach to motivation, fear and the ‘stick’ had little effect, the ‘carrot’ and reward had measureable effect. However, these studies were applied to manual workers.

More recent work by researchers such as Hertzberg in his ‘Hygiene Theory’ (1959) and Maslow’s pyramid of need (1943) placed salary (wages/reward/income) relatively low down the list of motivators. As long as the ‘pay’ was what was expected it had little extra value; inadequate rewards could quickly de-motivate, but once adequate levels were reached ‘pay’ simply came off of the table. This is a basic part of our PMP courses, hardly new or exciting….

However, I have just watched a fascinating video on TED, by Dan Pink, on the surprising science of motivation: starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don’t: Traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think.

A brief summary of the presentation is that traditional rewards do work for simple manual tasks. However, as soon as creative thinking is needed extrinsic rewards have the opposite effect by focusing effort in a narrow band and stopping the more creative thinking needed to solve the problem. The results are measurable negative performance, increasing as the reward increases.

According to Pink, the motivators that do work are intrinsic:

  • Autonomy: control and self-direction over the work.
  • Mastery: the ability to excel at the work by getting better and better at difficult tasks.
  • Purpose: the work contributes value to the organisation and others (in the service of something larger).

These motivators are very similar to the ideas of Maslow and Hertzberg briefly discussed above, and McGregor (Theory X, Theory Y – 1960). What’s fascinating in Pink’s presentation is the fact most organisations reward their senior decision makers with huge pay bonuses to solve some of society’s most difficult problems (and wonder why they fail so often…).

To see the presentation, go to the TED website at: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/dan_pink_on_motivation.html – whilst there it is well worth browsing, there are dozens of other fascinating presentations.

Maturity Modelling

Mature organisations firstly select the right projects to do, then do them ‘right’. The pyramid of returns on effort demonstrates the power of investing time to ensure the right processes are in place to support the right people to do the right things.

Sourced from: Breaking through the Project FOG. Author, James Norrie, Published, Jossey-Bass. See: http://www.projectgurus.org/project-fog.html

Identifying, developing and using the right processes is a key factor in organisational maturity. Research by Carnegie Mellon University and the Software Quality Institute shows that organisations who improve their process maturity gain:

  • improved schedule and budget predictability
  • improved cycle time
  • increased productivity
  • improved quality (as measured by defects)
  • increased customer satisfaction
  • improved employee morale
  • increased return on investment
  • decreased cost of quality.

And the best way for an organisation to improve its process maturity, is to use a process maturity model. Three models seem to dominate, these are:

  • CMMI from Software Engineering Institute (SEI): Carnegie Mellon University. CMMI (and predecessors) has been used by organisations for many years, there is statistical proof of effectiveness and two approaches to maturity assessment (staged and continuous). CMMI is a systems engineering maturity model with project management as one aspect of systems delivery.
  • OPM3 from PMI: offers most comprehensive assessment and reporting, supported by software (OPM3 ProductSuite). OPM3 offers reports on a continuum of best practice by project, program and portfolio and by stages of improvement. OPM3 is a project, program and portfolio management model supported by hundreds of best practices. For more on OPM3 see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/OPM3.html
  • P3M3 from Office of Government Commerce UK (OGC): offers a staged approach that supports an organization’s journey through progressive maturity in all three domains. P3M3 is more aspirational in its approach, lacking some of the rigor and detail of the other two systems.

For a more in-depth discussion see: Modelling Your Maturity, P3M3, CMMI and/or OPM3

These basic processes closely align with my SRMM model for Stakeholder Relationship Management Maturity. For more on this see: http://www.stakeholdermapping.com/

Maturity modelling is an important step to attaining process maturity, the challeng is choosing the best model.

Project Planning and Scheduling

The Guide to Good Practice in the Management of Time in Complex Projects (The Guide)  will be published at the end of this year. One of he key messages in The Guide is the need to separate planning from scheduling.

Project planning focuses on creating the project development strategy. It requires experience, vocabulary, communication and imagination and, at its highest level, provides the formula for the logistic strategy for the project construction. Project planning involves decisions concerning:

  • the overall strategy of how the work process is to be broken down for control;
  • how the control is to be managed;
  • what methods are to be used for design, procurement and delivery;
  • the strategy for subcontracting and procurement;
  • the interface between the various participants;
  • the zones of operation and their interface;
  • maximising efficiency of the project strategy with respect to cost and time;
  • risk and opportunity management;
  • the design for the schedule and its reports/communication plan.

Scheduling is a mixture of art and science to create the project manager’s time-allocation tool within the chosen software. It involves the interpretation of the results of project planning to ascertain, amongst other things, the start and finish dates of activities, their sequence and the required resources.

It is not good practice to plan the work whilst attempting to schedule it. Starting to develop the schedule before planning the project is unlikely to produce a satisfactory project-planning solution or an effective schedule.

This is not a new idea! James Kelley and Morgan Walker, the inventors of the Critical Path Method of scheduling in the very first paper published on the subject had the following to say:

A characteristic of contemporary project scheduling is the over-simplification which stems from the inability of unaided human beings to cope with sheer complexity. Even though we know that a detailed plan is necessary, we also know that management need only act when deviations from the plan occur. To resolve this situation we undertook to develop a technique that would be very simple but yet rigorous in application. One of the difficulties in the traditional approach is that planning and scheduling are carried on simultaneously. Our first step was to separate the functions of planning from scheduling.

This is an extract from the paper entitled Critical Path Planning and Scheduling delivered to the Eastern Joint Computer Conference in March 1959, by Kelley and Walker less then 2 years after they had invented CPM. Why is it 50 years later so many planners continue to ignore the wisdom learned from past projects and focus on entering data into computers before they have worked out the optimum way to deliver the project?

For more on the history of scheduling and an abstract of the Kelley and Walker paper see: A Brief History of Scheduling

PM History papers updated

Working on my paper for PMOZ 2010, Seeing the Road Ahead – the challenge of communicating schedule data  has required me to re-visit two key papers and augment them with new information and materials discovered in the last few years.

A Brief History of Scheduling – Back to the Future has had quite a lot of new materials incorporated. I am now confident this paper accurately lays out the development of scheduling and in particular, the origins of PERT and CPM.

The Origins of Modern Project Management  has had a few new footnotes included an links the development of modern project management to its roots the the spread of scheduling in the early 1960s.

Both updated papers are available for downloading and I have most of the reference materials available for anyone interested in further research into these topics.

The PMOZ paper will be available after publication in a couple of weeks. For more on the PMOZ conference see: http://www.pmoz.com.au/

Methodologies

Methodologies define a step-by-step process for delivering projects. Each methodology will describe each step in adequate depth, so that the project team understands what has to be done to deliver their project. This is quite different to a standardised knowledge framework such as the PMBOK® Guide (for more on this see: PMBOK -v- Methodology).

By using the same steps for every project the organisation undertakes risks and uncertainty are minimised and there is likely to be an overall saving of time and effort on projects.

Defining ‘your’ methodology

The key steps to follow are:

  • Define what it is that you want from your methodology, the type of content it should contain and the way in which it will be used.
  • Create a set of specific requirements. Some options include defining:
    • How much of the project lifecycle needs to be incorporated
    • How much detail should be included? What practical templates and examples are needed to help to complete the step quickly and easily?
    • Should it follow one of the worldwide project standards such as the PMBOK® Guide?
    • Can/should the system be easily customised suit all project types and sizes?
  • Determine the best methodology to use:
    • Review the methodologies used currently by your organisation and compare them to your requirements to see if there is a good fit.
    • Review the commercially available methodologies to see if there is a good fit.
    • Select the option with the best fit to your requirements
  • The best methodology is still only likely to have a 90% fit (or less), this is normal. Make sure you can customise the remaining elements to meet your requirements.
  • Ensure adequate flexibility for the range of projects in your organisation.

Implementing the methodology

The key steps are:

  • Create an Implementation Plan supported by a change management plan. Implementing a methodology is a significant organisational change.
  • Run the implementation as a change management program, including customising the methodology for your environment. Stakeholder engagement is vital to the overall success of the initiative.
  • Train the users and support staff in the methodology and ensure ongoing support.
  • Ensure the methodology is followed.
  • Start improving the methodology (for more on measuring and improving the organisations project management maturity see Mosaic’s OPM3 home page).

Improving the methodology

Processes are always capable of improvement. Observing the actual implementation of the methodology will define actions and outcomes within the following matrix.

Unauthorised, unproductive activities need to be stopped and authorised productive processes supported. The two zones for process improvement are refining or removing elements of the methodology that do not add value to the overall management of the project and incorporating unauthorised processes that are not in the methodology but that are being used add value.

The easiest and most important area for action is rectifying the unproductive processes already in the methodology. Care need to be taken to ensure the definition of ‘unproductive’ is understood. Most planning processes don’t produce anything and consume effort; superficially they can be classified as ‘unproductive’. In reality, effective planning contributes significantly to the efficient delivery of the project and its value to assist in the efficient execution of the work being planned is significant.

Excessively detailed planning though is usually counterproductive. Value judgements are needed to assess the point at which adding more detail or rigour becomes ‘planning overkill’ reducing the overall value of the process and conversely, how much detail can be safely removed from a planning processes to improve overall productivity before insufficient planning starts to cause problems.

Ensuring the methodology is seen as ‘productive’ is essential for it to be generally accepted and supported by your stakeholders.

Once the existing methodology is optimised and firmly in the ‘authorised and productive’ segment, the next area is to examine unauthorised processes that aid productivity and progressively incorporate these into your methodology. The ‘unauthorised and productive’ quadrant is where you find genuine innovation and opportunities for organisational gain.

Summary

No methodology works ‘out of the box’ they all need customisation and tailoring. However, the effort is worthwhile. OPM3 has demonstrated standardised processes that incorporate best practices can provide significant benefits to an organisation (see more on OPM3).

The challenge is balancing systemised processes with the need for adequate flexibility to deal with the circumstances of each unique project. An effective project management methodology needs core components, scalable components and optional components designed to meet the needs of your organisation.