Four Steps from Heroes
Don’t play the Hero
I don’t know why, but I still shake my head at continuing heroic behaviour in the industry.
I am reminded of my boyhood heroes the Commandos, subject of the very moving Spean Bridge memorial. Each time I visit there, I see soldiers and heroes, my admiration mixed with a sadness, which reduces me to tears at the sacrifice they and their more recently commemorated colleagues have made.
As a fighting force the Commandos would resolutely point out that they do not aim to be heroes.They are highly motivated, extremely well trained and led and they only go into action after careful planning. If they are forced to be heroes then the organisation has failed.That’s not to say that there haven’t been disasters and individual heroism, but they are minimised by having
Â·A sound method – shock, speed and overwhelming force
Â·clear objectives with defined tasks,
Â·sufficient resources (human and materiel)
Â·good risk management – intelligence and back-up plans.
The same skills stand us in good stead in IT where the human stakes are, thankfully, usually much lower.It might however be better if we were to leave the guns at home.
Heroes don’t need measurement
Heroic project managers fight fires, and they love it. They get a buzz from it and they drive their teams to deliver despite the obstacles.They resist measurement – if the budget isn’t spent, they’re fine. Or are they? The Standish Group in 2009 reported that only 32% of projects deliver on time and on budget, 24% projects are abandoned and the remainder deliver late or partial solutions.This results in the familiar witch-hunts, and the shedding of those to “blame” for the failure, even when management have not the slightest clue why the project has failed and who was really responsible.
Of course some poorly controlled projects do deliver, but often at the price of excessive process, over-manning and slow delivery.When the sandbagging of resources becomes apparent then we start to think – what should we do?Organisations start on the first of the steps of the road to reduced heroism. By following this road we can increase delivery success and get the best from the mere mortals that most of us are.
The four-step process is summed up as:
Â·Reporting – looking back at what you’ve delivered
Â·Understanding – why projects deliver as they do
Â·Managing – managing development processes to maximise productivity
Â·Predicting – using data to plan strategically and maximise value.
In my next blog I’ll take a closer look at the four steps.