Tag Archives: Project management

Do you really want to get this done?

As a senior BA I’m obsessed by 2 very simple questions:

  • didn’t we forget anything in our to do list?
  • do we have an owner for each to do?

Fellow BAs might find this a bit short. Well indeed those 2 obsessions do not define my job at all. I’m also writing requirements, business rules, information models, getting people around the table and creating the conditions of dialogue, designing solutions, making sure they’re built properly and within budget etc etc. What I’m pinpointing are simply my 2 biggest concerns.  And frankly, I dare to say those are the concerns of any entrepreneur.  I’m also very much aware that it overlaps with the PM concerns, but neither is this the point I want to make.

If you accept my 2 statements that

  • each IT project is a change project (from the most evident user facing app till the hidden network software upgrade)
  • impacts are potentially everywhere (everything is linked to everything in complex organisations!)

Then I expect you would agree that the business analyst and the project manager have to look at the whole organization if they really want to get the change project done and delivering value and satisfaction.

Okay, so far, so good.

What do we observe on the workfloor during project ideation or scoping?

Simple: IT teams up with ops and accounting for instance. They quickly identify prominent impacts, liaise with a selection of concerned people, sketch a budget, get it approved, form a project team and there it starts. Professional work, no doubt. Delivered in a very short timing, with the people you managed to mobilize. I.e. there are missing parts? By definition.

Now, let’s look at the mission of the newly created project team a bit. Is it “get that scope implemented” or “make everything necessary for that change to happen”? And, most importantly, are team members entrepreneurs or executing roles?

If you ever were responsible for a project, you know exactly what I’m coming to, because we all suffered from it at one time or another in our career.  It’s the stupid, dangerous and so much engrained belief (or implicit assumption) that if we deliver the scope then the change will happen.  And sorry for change managers, but you believe that too.

Even more inconvenient that this very common assumption is solidly locked by a number of bad organizational habits of cultural shortcomings.

  • silos
  • budgets
  • job descriptions
  • yearly objectives
  • disstrust

And it is also true that there’s nothing you can do as a consultant to change your client culture or organization. And by the way it’s not your mandate.

What can you do then?

4 actions

  • Make sure you’re enthusiastic for the change yourself
  • Make sure you’re straight in your boots, do your homework!
  • Find allies at the highest level you can reach
  • Accept no barriers and do what must be done

Are you ready?

get-it-done

I wish you a New Year full of fantastic results!

 

IT projects: fear is everywhere

Several months ago I gave a training on emotional intelligence to a group of professional business analysts and testers. That was a very nice experience. For a lot of reasons. The setting was very nice to start with, and they were smart and experienced. There were also a lot of constructive interactions. But what I found most interesting was to try and open up smart people to the marvellous world of emotions, and to demonstrate how this was important to their daily job. Not sure I managed it fully though, but sure I initiated the thinking.

At the end of the training, we tried to map emotions and the standard phases of an IT project (regular waterfall approach, the point was not project management).

We came up with such a table, featuring basic emotions and phases.

CGB blog post fear

Nothing spectacular yet. We circulated an empty table to every participant with the instruction to evaluate, for his or her experience, what emotion was strongly felt during each phase. I collected the tables after some thinking time, and aggregated the replies.

What struck me was the number of people who had felt fear at various phases. It was really like the dominant emotion felt by project participants was FEAR.

fear

This kept me busy for a number of months. I kept on interviewing business analysts, other project fellows, and the same conclusion was always coming back. Of course there’s sometimes anger and surprise, and the biggest joy of all when the death march is done and project is delivered… but still fear was there. Everybody mentioned it at some point.

Needless to say that few project managers are sensitive or trained to managing fear. Neither is the slightest mention made of fear and anger in Prince2 or the Pmbok… while every project manager in the world face them on a daily basis. I’m wondering how much time it will take for a training dedicated to emotional intelligence for project managers will appear.

So I kept stuck with that concern and no way of solving it. I was indeed giving a training on emotional intelligence myself, but not going further than giving scientific background, naming emotions, communicating them and showing empathy. (Which is way beyond regular IT project member skills, so it certainly remains useful). But that was no fix to fear…

And then the light came out of a beautiful Tweet by @gregnazvanov


(We let aside the procrastination for the time being.) So gratitude would be the antidote to fear then… How strange, how new this was to me… Something new to learn as it seemed. Pushed by curiosity, I spent the evening googling and finally found some actionable advice on Philosiblog.

In order to feel the true link between gratitude and fear, let’s follow the author and try this:

Think about something scary or unknown, something that makes you at least a little apprehensive, if not fearful. It doesn’t have to be ‘hide under the covers’ scary, just something uncomfortable. Now go back to being grateful for a few moments. What happened to the fear? Is yours the same? Mine was diminished

I tried it too. And that worked for even when my gratefulness was directed to something completely different.

Some explanations are useful.

While gratitude won’t remove risk, it can help us to see that there is something useful, even beneficial, to any outcome. Rather than fearing action, we can begin to embrace it. And in that embrace, we begin to start moving, and once again, we can take action.

If you think that point is not very rational, well I have to say you’re rather right. It’s another type of reasoning. If that’s an excuse for you not to try, that’s rather disappointing. You can try it and not tell anybody :-)

And a last piece, wich insists on how important it is to try it in real life.

It is important because it’s one thing for me to say it, but another thing entirely for you to have experienced it. That makes it a bit more real, and vastly more believable. If you can’t find an instance in your past, promise yourself to try this the next time you find yourself fearful or angry.

I have to say I am very grateful to the people who contributed to get this window open in me, and I’m looking forward to putting it into practice.

Are you?

I wish you a beautiful day.