Sometimes the only way to get to an insight is to sneak up on it from the back. My post Reflections on PMs as late adopters has had me thinking a lot about the sense of authority and professionalism program and project managers bring to their respective jobs.
For years I’ve stood in front of senior managers and said effectively “you can trust me, I actually do know what I’m doing.” Since I’ve always meant those words, I know that I personally become very risk adverse about introducing extraneous variables into my programs.
The problem is that recently I think this appropriate risk aversion toward scope creep is slipping into all areas of our management practices. We want guarantees. We want to be assured that there’s a silver bullet that if we do all of these process steps in exactly the right order everything will come out right. Problem is that there isn’t a big P process that will survive a battle with Murphy. For that we need the right staff. I can’t begin to enumerate the number of times the great people I had on the projects and programs I’ve worked on have pulled us back from whatever cliff Murphy was trying to throw us off of. In fact at one time I had a sign in my office that said:
“I don’t believe in miracles, I plan on them.”
And when I prepared my very first project management conference presentation when of the three variable I identified as being crucial for success was having the right people. I’ve heard all the reasons why PMs have to live with the staff they’ve been given and quite frankly I don’t buy them. Or maybe I should say I don’t buy the answer as being true in any organization that claims to be good at managing projects.
So here’s my challenge – the PMO should be held responsible to not beginning a project before it can be adequately staffed. No staff available – no projects. The PMO should also be measured by the project team at the conclusion of the project based on how the project team assesses the staff they were given.
I’d love to hear from people as to how well they think their organization would do against this metric. Do you think it’s fair? Do you think it’s right? If you think I’m off-base what would you suggest instead?
I’m looking forward to hearing what people think.