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Deliverables and People Centered Project Management

This an article that I have written for my good friend Cheryl Wilson and the Project Post-Gazette.

I remember when Project Management was all about managing a Triple Constraint. I wish everything  in life was this easy.

Traditional Project Management has been focused on working a ‘process focused’ approach along five project lifecycle phases over ten Knowledge Areas. This process centered approach has been very useful for guiding us as Project Managers and by checking that we covered each of the required management aspects along a project.

But, still nowadays we find that many ‘immature’ organizations don’t follow Project Management and they are only focused on building their agreed-upon deliveries. Probably, they are wrong and should use Project Management, but what if we are also wrong in our approach and we should focus on deliverables? and, what if we focus also in people?

New Agile approaches has gone to the other extreme side: a Project Management focus only in building incremental shippable deliveries. For them, traditional Project Management has too much bureaucracy, so the Agile Manifesto states that they value more the following items on the right:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Responding to change over following a plan

Based on cross-functional teams, mainly focused on Software Development, this approaches have forever changed the Project Management world. There is also an underlying ‘people focus’ concept. If team members are not happy (motivated), a project can’t be successful. In traditional project management the Project Manager feels alone, fighting with the Triple Constraint and managing Risks.  In Agile project management the team is self-managed, so each of the team members becomes responsible for his/her assignments. So, here the ‘motivational’ focus is very important.

In fact this last point, reminds me of the Jordan Price’s case study on “Why I just quit my job at Apple” published at the Huffington Post. Just like what happended in the movie “Office Space”, the Jordan Prince’s experience at Apple touches all the points that a Team Member should never feel when being in a project:

  • ‘I hardly (hardly meaning never) saw my daughter during the week because the hours were so inflexible.’ (lack of CONCILIATION MEASURES/PROGRAM)
  • ‘a substantial pay cut’ (lack of FAIR SALARY)
  • ‘There were meetings all the time which were disruptive to everyone’s productivity’ (lack of UNITERRUPTED HOURS FOR WORK)
  • ‘immediate boss making direct and indirect insults, also to his team members’ (lack of RESPECT)
  • ‘jokes, insults, and negativity from my boss started distracting me from getting work done’ (lack of CONCENTRATION)
  • ‘desperately wanted Friday evening to arrive, and I dreaded Sunday nights.’ (lack of DESIRE TO BE AT WORK / lack of MOTIVATION)
  • ‘I was still thinking that I’d rather be taking my daughter to her preschool like I did on some mornings before I started at Apple.’ (lack of FLEXIBILITY)
  • ‘my boss hit me with another weird low-blow insult wrapped up nicely as a joke’ (suffering until DEGRADETION OF RESILIENCE)
  • ‘message for my boss and told him he’s the worst boss I had ever encountered in my entire professional career’ (FED UP WITH ABUSE)
  • ‘third party company that contracted me is furious’.  ‘I do feel terrible for destroying the long relationship I had with the recruiter who helped me land the interview.’ (CULPABILITY)

This article at Huffington Post made a great impact on me, as the ProjectManagers.org community is centered on people. There is too much to do for people in Project Management. People in Project Management must be kings, not the last thing to care about. Do you think that a Project can be successful this way?. I don’t think so.

So, probably Agile focus on Deliveries and People can help us to work more this key aspects many times missing, including at the biggest companies like Apple.

Do you agree or disagree? Share your comments.

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