We all begin our projects with the greatest of intentions. Some people view project management as a series of contests or challenges beginning with a well thought out plan that everyone agrees with. When projects do not necessarily go according to plan, we may end up with rigorous confrontations that can lead to skirmishes and even battles. Some battles on projects are so intense that we consider them as all out wars.
If we look at the literal definition of war, we can see the comparison to the project management environment. This appears in Exhibit 1.
Dictionary Definition of War
Project Management Interpretation
An often prolonged conflict carried on between nations, states, or parties.
Disagreements between the project manager, client, stakeholders and governance groups, possibly for the duration of the project
A concerted effort or campaign to combat or put an end to something considered injurious
Each of the disagreements can be viewed as injurious as seen through the eyes of each involved party; interpretation of changes in the enterprise environmental factors
Everyone has personal and/or political values which can be the source of the war; the personal values can become more important that the project's values
An armed conflict or a state of armed hostility
Weapons of war are more than words; they include schedules, budgets, specifications, requirements and other constraints as well as the organizational process assets
A condition of active antagonism or contention
A war of words, a war of how to interpret the requirements or a contract price war
Exhibit 1 A Project Management Interpretation of War
Both victors and losers in war are often given ribbons and medal to commemorate their heroism in the face of adversity or simply to show their participation in a military campaign. The PM's battles can exist on several fronts; battles with the client, stakeholders, the project team, the governance group, and even with your own senior management. Each battle can be different and they can all be taking place concurrently.
If each project is viewed as a military campaign or even war, then what would life be like if we were to award ribbons and medals to project managers the same way we do it for military personnel? There are numerous challenges in project management and people should be recognized for overcoming these challenges. Of course, this will probably never happen, but it is still something worth considering.
The Competing Constraints Ribbon:
For more than 40 years we defined project success using the triple constraints of time, cost and scope. But today, we have competing constraints which go well beyond just time, cost and scope. Other constraints which may be important include:
Today, our projects are becoming more complex. We realize that meeting all of the constraints may be too challenging and even impossible on some projects. The solution may be to prioritize the constraints and hope that we can perform at a minimum within all of the high priority constraints. It is entirely possible that performance within all of the constraints may be more wishful thinking than reality.
For those project managers that perform within all of the competing constraint, they may receive the Competing Constraints Ribbon shown in Exhibit 2. Since the color green is often used to portray success, it is only fitting that the colors on the ribbon be various shades of green. The star in the ribbon can be a variety of colors signifying the number of projects that were successfully managed within all of the competing constraints.
Exhibit 2 Recognition for Meeting All of the Competing Constraints
The Pain and Suffering Endurance Ribbon:
When projects get out of control, whether it is the result of changes in the enterprise environmental factors or the personal whims of stakeholders, project managers end up taking the brunt of all of the pain. The pain can come from physical, verbal or emotional abuse. Some projects are completed without pain and suffering, but these are usually in the minority. Unfortunately, projects will get into trouble. When this happens, not all project managers know how to perform under this type of pressure or stress.
The criteria for this award is based upon:
Exhibit 3 shows the Pain and Suffering Endurance Ribbon. Since the color blue seems to be the most commonly used color in the medical profession, it is only fitting that the award be various shades of blue. The symbol in the medal is a common symbol used in the medical profession. The alternate choice for colors in this ribbon would be black and blue, and I am sure we all know why, and no further explanation is necessary.
Exhibit 3 Pain and Suffering Endurance Ribbon
The Project Recovery Ribbon:
We know that projects have a tendency to get into trouble, yet not all project managers possess the necessary skills to recover a failing project. Sometimes people with special expertise are brought into a project to take over the possibly failing projects. These people may have the title of recovery project managers.
The ribbon for successfully recovering a failing project is shown in Exhibit 4. The colors in the ribbon identify the direction in which the project must go; namely red (in trouble), yellow (there's hope) and green (out of trouble). Recovery project managers may also receive the Pain and Suffering Endurance Ribbon.
The Global Project Manager Ribbon:
Some project managers become very good at managing internal projects and may receive numerous Competing Constraints Ribbons. Yet the same project managers may become failures at managing global projects because of their inability to deal with cultural differences, politics, power struggles, and rapidly changing enterprise environmental factors based upon who is in power in the government at that time.
Exhibit 4 The Project Recovery Ribbon
Exhibit 5 The Global Project Manager Ribbon
Exhibit 5 shows the ribbon awarded for successfully managing global projects. The seven colors in the ribbon represent the seven continents. People that are awarded the Global Project Manager Ribbon may also be awarded the Pain and Suffering Endurance Ribbon. It is unlikely that they will also receive the Competing Constraints Ribbon.
The Professional Responsibility Ribbon:
The project management environment offers numerous ways for project managers to get into trouble. Typical ways include:
The PMI Code of Conduct and Professional Responsibility should be adhered to and people that abide by the code should be identified and rewarded. Exhibit 6 shows a typical ribbon and/or medal for such people. People that fail in abiding by the Code of Conduct and Professional Responsibility could end up with prison sentences and voluntary admission to the witness protection program.
Exhibit 6 The Professional Responsibility Ribbon
The Say "NO" Ribbon:
Perhaps the most important and least used word in the project manager's vocabulary is the word NO. No matter how well the project's requirements are thought out and the fact that everyone agrees initially on the project's requirements, changes seem to occur. While some changes are necessary, many changes are requested because of the personal whims of individuals rather than for the best interest of the project.
The ultimate purpose of a change to prevent unnecessary changes from entering the project. Scope changes result in baseline changes with the ultimate effect of elongating the schedule and driving up the cost. Project managers must be prepared to say no. Project managers should be rewarded rather than punished when correctly saying no to the clients and stakeholders. The ribbon for this is shown in Exhibit 7 below.
The Innovation Ribbon:
Innovation is generally regarded as a new way of doing something. The new way of doing something should be substantially different from the way it was done before rather than a small incremental change such as with continuous improvement activities. The ultimate goal of innovation is to create hopefully long-lasting additional value for the company, the users, and the deliverable itself. Innovation can be viewed as the conversion of an idea into cash or a cash equivalent.
While the goal of successful innovation is to add value, the outcome can be negative or even destructive if it results in poor team morale, an unfavorable cultural change or a radical departure from existing ways of doing work. The failure of an innovation project can lead to demoralizing the organization and causing talented people to be risk-avoiders in the future rather than risk-takers.
Not all project managers have the opportunity to manage project that require true innovation. The criteria for the Innovation Ribbon in Exhibit 8 should be not only the creation of a unique product or service, but one that creates long-lasting value and possibly profits for the company.
Exhibit 8 The innovation Ribbon
The Profitability Ribbon:
Not all project managers have the opportunity to manage projects designed to create immediate profits. Some project managers do not have profit and loss (P&L) responsibility and end up managing internal projects where the measurement of actual profits may be difficult and may not occur until well into the future.
But those project managers whose efforts directly contribute to the profitability of the firm should be recognized perhaps with the ribbon shown in Exhibit 9. There's no apparent need to explain why the color green is used in the ribbon. However, there must be a reasonable criteria established for what constitutes significant profitability. Also, the criteria should indicate that this is done without any sacrifice to quality.
Exhibit 9 Corporate Profitability Ribbon
The Power of Acknowledgement Ribbon:
Today, we are asking project team members at the end of a project to evaluate the performance of the project manager and whether or not they would like to work for this project manager on future projects. If the project team members feel that they were personally challenged and motivated by the project manager to the point where they ended up performing to the best of their ability, they will most certainly want to work for this project manager again.
The secret to effective motivation of the team, without incurring any detrimental results, is by using the power of acknowledgement. Exhibit 10 shows the Power of Acknowledgement Ribbon. Effective acknowledgement goes from your heart to the heart of the team members. Using the proper words when acknowledging the efforts of the team will unlock their hearts and motivate them to higher levels of performance. That's why the heart appears in the medal and, of course, I assume we all understand why various shades of red are used as the colors.
Exhibit 10 The Power of Acknowledgement Ribbon
The Quality of Life Ribbon:
Having the first nine ribbons and medals pinned to your chest may have no meaning unless you have a family to share the recognitions with. All too often, project managers become so in love with their job that they forget about their family and the community.
The Quality of Life Ribbon appears in Exhibit 11. The criteria for the award should be established by the spouses of the project managers based upon a criteria that might include.
This award, in my opinion, should be presented at a public ceremony for all PMs to see. Maintaining a stream of successfully managed projects is a nice accomplishment as long as it is not done at the expense of your family.
Exhibit 11 The Quality of Life Ribbon
There are numerous battles that project managers must participate in to be effective. These battles can occur at any time and last for the duration of the project. In this paper, I have identified just 10 possible battles and project managers should be somehow recognized for their ability to have won these battles. We all know that there are other battles that project managers must endure, and perhaps the list may be as high as 30 to 40 battles. But at least we see the need to recognize some of the critical accomplishments made by project managers.
Most project managers have at some time faced a crisis in the various projects, programs or portfolios that they manage. Hence, such “work life events” are extremely significant, putting you and your team in difficult and stressful situations.
It was my honor and privilege to interview Mark Addicks as a Grateful Leader for my book. What he says below truly sums up my view on the importance of this leadership model: “For me, Grateful Leadership is not an ‘end state’; it’s more of a commitment to a state of being. Grateful Leaders strive to find the best in others (and in themselves), recognize the role and contributions of every individual around them, and acknowledge that Grateful Leadership itself is a constant journey…”
The Seven Deadly Sins affect all of us sooner or later, even though we refuse to admit it. Some of us may be impacted by just one or two of the sins, whereas others may succumb to all seven. What is unfortunate is that the greatest damage can occur on projects when the sins influence the way that senior levels of management must interface with projects, whether as a project sponsor or as a member of a governance group. Bad decisions at the top, especially if based upon emotions rather than practicality, can place the project on a destructive path even before the day the project is kicked off.
George: Welcome to IIL’s aLLPM.com’s podcast interview.
My name is George Bridges, and I am the allPM Project Management Roving Reporter. We have are very excited about having the opportunity to interview you today. Please sit back, relax, grab a cup of coffee or your favorite beverage, and enjoy the podcast interview.
Within the aerospace industry, spectacular technological and design feats are par for the course. But the hardest work of all is almost never on the “hard-side” skills and abilities: It is nearly always on the soft side--leading, managing and working with the people who turn these dreams into reality. When individual or team interpersonal conflicts arise, progress bogs down. When the conflict is between internal divisions or with external stakeholders, progress can grind to a halt. This is where we can find a surprising additional benefit to everyday tools like project plans.
Abstract A holistic systems perspective of projects and programs is required today to achieve the full benefits of systems thinking4 in project management. To achieve this perspective, the need to establish a Comprehensive Project Life Cycle definition and to promote its application on all important projects is first presented.
Publisher’s Note – We know many of you have barely had the chance to crack the covers of the PMBOK® Guide, 5th Edition, which is why we are pleased to include this article, provided by seasoned PM professional Seamus Collins, who has outlined the changes he observed between the Fourth and Fifth Editions. We also love including articles from people around the globe, and Seamus is based in Cork, Ireland. Let’s hear from more of you from other parts of the world, with your contributions to our web portal!