The building of the Pyramids is often linked to mystery or even sci-fi theories, but it should be linked to project management. It’s said that it took 10 to 20 years to complete the Great Pyramid of Giza- can you imagine if they simply decided to “wing it” instead?
Just think how potentially disastrous the construction of the Empire State Building or the development of the NASA space shuttle would be had project management not been applied.
While it’s technically rooted in these historic missions and many more, project management has recently become something of a new buzzword for describing a rapidly growing, organizational discipline.
Careers are often made and broken on the strength of ‘Projects’. This particular venue offers the urgency of task completion as well as a tool for evaluating managerial skill.
The emergence of tools, certifications, metrics and other established methods have helped to standardize ‘Project Management’ within several mainstream industries. The emergent tools are essential to the science of Project Management, but the art of Project Management is a testament to leadership skills, organizational politics and competitive posturing.
The art of Project Management is expressed through the people who take it on.
The increasing demand for good Project Managers and good project team members comes at a time when there is very little wiggle room between individual job responsibilities and emergent organizational activity.
Project Management has Gone Mainstream:
- Projects are management-training opportunities: There is a wisdom that comes with knowing how to position an employee for long-term leadership opportunities by way of the project. The experience, combined with project management certification, will go a long way to demonstrating commitment.
- Projects are budget management opportunities: Budgets are an essential part of the project management life. Completing projects on or under budget is a specific, measurable skill that will dictate further success. It is a rare project manager who, after uttering the words, ‘We’re over budget’, has heard their Project Leader say, “Hey, no problem!”
- Projects are time management opportunities: Time is elusive when not measured against a progressive activity. How time is used, especially when overseeing the activities of a project team, can make or break its completion.
- Projects are vision development opportunities: The role of any leader is to provide a clear vision as to the direction of the organization. The Project Manager has the opportunity to develop that skill at a smaller scale.
Drawing Upon Collective Social Capital (Developing Strong Team Bonds)
The importance of intellectual and social capital in the project team most fundamentally, the successful completion of these activities will depend on selecting project team members with appropriate knowledge, skills and expertise.
Ideally, project teams will be chosen so that their members have a mix of knowledge and capabilities in order to ensure team diversity and representation. We can refer to this as the intellectual capital of the team – the ‘knowledge and knowing capability of the collectivity’.
While intellectual capital and its mix across the team is important, it is unlikely that all team members will have all the relevant knowledge and expertise necessary. Rather, members will need to network with a range of other individuals in order to make sense of both organizational processes (‘as is’ and ‘to be’) and the ERP system. In doing this they will be drawing upon their collective social capital.
In other words, teams who have developed strong bonds are more likely to balance the extent to which they use their social capital bridges for the public or private good.
Where this strong bonding does not exist, team members are likely to feel limited normative commitment to using their social capital bridges for the public good of the project. Perhaps more importantly from the knowledge-integration perspective, even if they do use their social capital bridges to access relevant and important knowledge for the project, the internal team context will not provide the environment for the effective integration and use of this knowledge.
Don’t Forget About Strong Communication Skills
Communication skills are also important for the entire team. For the team leader, they are absolutely critical.
When one considers the amount of time people spend communicating with his team, the project sponsor, stakeholders, and senior managers throughout the organization- it becomes readily apparent that a poor communicator has almost no chance of completing the project as planned. The team requires not only excellent speaking skills, but writing skills due to the need for written reports.
Problem solving is more than evaluating a problem and determining a solution; it also involves making a decision. Project problems can be the result of technical incompatibilities or even the lack of a technical capability. They can be interpersonal in nature, or they could result from functional managers reassigning one or more of the resources.
They also can take the form of external difficulties with environmental or other stakeholder groups. Whatever the source, it is the team’s responsibility to assess the problem and determine the best course of action to resolve it.
Featured photo courtesy of Waag Society.