The Art of Project Management: Expert advice from experienced project managers in Silicon Valley, and around the world
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Developing PMs – The Mid Game

So, you’ve established the initial PM training, set up coaching and mentoring as well as a basic methodology for them to follow, including review bodies, etc. Now what?

First, you must continue supporting the PMs. While coaching and mentoring will help them with some of the day-to-day feedback, “what gets measured gets done” is a classic saying. The organization must recognize what a) good project management is and b) the efforts that PMs take to improve their skill.

Good projects are those that meet scope, budget, and time. But, does the organization recognize the fire fighter or the good PM that smoothly sails his/her project to completion? This is a key question the organization must address. If fire fighters are recognized, there’s incentive for crisis to bubble up so that the PM can be the hero that saves the day (by the way, this is not just a behavior exhibited by PMs. Other team members may do the same.) Such an organization may not properly recognize the smooth-sailing PM, encouraging behaviors that may not be the best for the organization’s intentions. A phrase that alludes to this situation is “being under the gun”. This is viewed by many as taking a heroic action to save the day. Yes, but… Some time ago I read the real story about this phrase. From what I remember, it was about a young officer in the British Navy who threw himself under a cannon that was rolling on the deck and would have smashed the walls of the ship, causing a disaster. When the commanding officer saw this young officer’s action, the young officer expected to be rewarded. Instead, the captain punished him since the young officer had failed to tie down the cannon, which was his responsibility! The captain recognized that the young officer had created a crisis that need not have happened due to his lack of attention to his duties. Does your organization recognize these situations or do they reward the fire fighters who may be also the fire starters?

We’ll talk next time about recognizing PMs who improve their skills. Till then.

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About the Author

JOSE SOLERA, B.S, MBA, PMP(R), CSM has been a project and program manager for more than twenty years in high technology with focus on IT efforts. At Intel Corporation for over 20 years, Jose led multiple projects and efforts, from the first client-server software development in the early 1990s using what now is called "Agile Project Management" to the extremely large Y2K effort. The Y2K effort was not only focused on internal IT systems but also involved the company's products, suppliers, and customers. After Intel, Jose joined Symantec as an IT Program Director driving a large, complex program in support of a new business capability and defining a program management methodology for the IT organization. As the 2006 President of the Project Management Institute's (PMI) Silicon Valley Chapter, Jose led the activities of the over 1,400 member chapter. Currently, Jose is teaching and consulting on project acceleration and leadership through Solera Associates LLC (http://www.pmlead.com). Email Jose at jose.solera@gmail.com
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