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Unformatted text preview: t important concern of project managers. It is also the aspect
that I believe is usually handled worst. Organizations operate today from a lean-and-mean perspective; yet
they try to do as much work as they did before they downsized, rightsized, or whatever euphemism is applied
to signify that they are now woefully understaffed to do the necessary work.
To address this issue fully would take a book twice the size of this one. Until the problem is recognized and
addressed, however, projects will continue to go over budget, miss deadlines, and suffer from poor quality
(performance). Furthermore, the scheduling software that is available today to do resource leveling does not
address the question of whether the right person is assigned to the job. This is the project manager’s
responsibility. The Right Type of Management
The second component of successful project management is managing people appropriately. Unfortunately,
individuals often are chosen to become project managers because they are good at their technical discipline
but then are given no training in management. It seems to be a prevalent paradigm in the United States that
anyone who is good at a technical job can manage. It makes me wonder why we have MBA programs at all.
I personally believe that this failure to train managers is one of the principle causes of business failures in the
United States. The problem is especially common in project management. In fact, there seems to be an inverse correlation between technical performance and management performance. I find that technical people often
make terrible managers, although this is by no means always true.
Technical people are (usually) predominantly thing-oriented rather than people-oriented. They tend to be
introverted, meaning that they are oriented toward their internal world of concepts and ideas, rather than
toward the external world. So they often deal with people the same way they would deal with things,
lamenting that people are not logical, rational, and subject to mathematical analysis.
Some managers still subscribe to an authoritarian view that can be summarized as the KITA principle: If
people don’t perform, you Kick them In The Anatomy (you know which part). Their view of people accords
with the traditional Theory X outlook described by Douglas McGregor, which sees people as unmotivated (or
motivated only by money), untrustworthy, and incapable of thinking and contributing independently; people
are seen as members of a herd, requiring a lead cow to guide them.
Such views tend to be self-confirming. The manager behaves as if people were no-goodniks, then finds that
they seem to be exactly that. She never realizes that her management style itself has evoked the expected
response in her employees. And because she believes that the employees will let her down, she never takes the
risk of trusting them, which would have allowed her to find that they actually will perform quite well if given
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- Fall '13