How many things in our lives are affected by poor project management? We probably can’t even imagine. Time, resources and money are wasted every day around the globe when projects fail to deliver. When it comes to IT, this is an urgent problem. Our lives depend increasingly on software and digitalization is causing that dependence to increase exponentially.
What’s going wrong with projects?
A recent article points the finger very effectively. It’s entitled : ‘When Will IT Project Madness End?‘ by CIO Colin Ellis. Although this article refers specifically to IT projects in public services in Australia, the problems encountered are clearly not unique to that setting. Ellis points out that numerous large projects paid for by taxpayers fail and yet there seem to be no repercussions. Here are some comments he quotes from a report that are surely relevant elsewhere:
“Of the 20 capability reviews conducted by the APSC (Australian Public Service Commission) and released to date, 11 have noted that departments struggle with project management skills and program management practices.”
“Program and project management are too often seen as control activities based on templates and Gantt charts. They are actually creative processes.”
“Legislation will not change culture: people and their actions do.”
How can we stop the madness?
There is clearly a huge problem in understanding exactly what project management is and what it entails. It is a huge mistake to think of it as something that can be entrusted to “techniques”.
The author of the article makes observations that are too good not to quote here:
Here’s the thing, the process is only good as the people that use it and according to Shergold and the worldwide statistics for IT project success (it was an appalling 29 per cent in 2015), most of them aren’t good enough.
Sure they have a certificate that says that understand a method, but where’s the feedback from those who have worked with them that demonstrates they’re able to be a role model for others?
That demonstrates that they’re able to keep their emotions in check, continually strive to be the best version of themselves and create the kind of environments where people can perform their job to the best of their abilities?
Project management is a complex human activity
What Ellis is drawing attention to here is that Project Management is a complex human activity. It requires way more than a technique. It requires a human being with yes, technical skills, but also with the leadership and emotional skills to guide projects through to completion.
Within the Theory of Constraints we can find robust answers to the many failings of contemporary project management. Critical Chain is highly sophisticated and yet straightforward method to manage projects with success. It does require the mental flexibility to abandon the misleading concepts of milestones and multitasking and to embrace a mindset of relentless continuity in working through the tasks on the critical chain.
We live in an age of complexity that requires systemic solutions. As the Theory of Constraints is a systemic approach, it sees projects as whole systems and people as whole human beings with all their inherent fears and strengths. The Thinking Process tools are designed to help leaders and managers develop in themselves and others the kind of ‘intelligent emotions’ required to work together and towards a common goal. A project manager equipped with Critical Chain and the Thinking Processes Tools has the means not just to lead projects successfully but to help him or herself and others to continuously evolve.
Sign up to our blog here and shift your thinking towards broader, systemic possibilities for yourself and your organization.
About the Author
Angela Montgomery Ph.D. is Partner and Co-founder of Intelligent Management and author of the business novel+ website The Human Constraint . This downloadable novel uses narrative to look at how the Deming approach and the Theory of Constraints can create the organization of the future, based on collaboration, network and social innovation. She is co-author with Dr. Domenico Lepore, founder, and Dr. Giovanni Siepe of ‘Quality, Involvement, Flow: The Systemic Organization’ from CRC Press, New York.