The Dos and Don'ts in Project Management

Experts constantly publish articles touting the best five tips, the most successful ten tools, or the most lucrative 15 methods. It is also simply more catchy to work with such lists. 
Werner Kurzlechner has dealt with the Dos and Don'ts in Couputerwoche. John Chapman tried it the other way around in an article on the APM blog and wrote an article about the seven deadly sins in project management. Sometimes it can actually help to know not only what to do, but also what not to do. He listed the seven worst mistakes that will demotivate any team and make successful project completion a guaranteed distant prospect. At the same time, a study by Deloitte looked at the nine Dos. What are the success factors? We summarize nine Dos and seven Don'ts for you.
A broken fortune cookie. The note says "You can do it".

Don't. The seven deadly sins.

To what extent can the deadly sins of the Catholic Church actually be applied to PM? It's not as far-fetched as you might think. Do you know the painting by Hieronymus Bosch, in which he depicted the seven deadly sins in a very graphic, gruesome way more than half a century ago? The seven deadly sins are pride, greed, lust, anger, envy, sloth and intemperance. 

Pride manifests itself in an arrogant team leader who takes credit for all successes and always belittles his team. It is clear that this has a negative effect on motivation. Greed is evident in negotiations, where every penny is bargained for, even if there is more room for maneuver. Those who deprive their employees of minutes of their lunch break or don't want to invest in a decent headset, a telephone or a computer program out of stinginess create a bad mood, which depresses productivity. 

Where does lust fit in here? It's more in the sense of arrogance and self-importance. If a project manager appears too omniscient and domineering, this does not have a positive effect on motivation. Anger is known to be out of place almost everywhere. If you yell at your team members, you will certainly not reach your goal, you will harvest fear, rejection and resistance. Envy is also something that can nip teamwork in the bud. You want an office twice as big as everyone else's just to show them how important you are? That's going to go wrong. Laziness: If you expect top performance from your team and sometimes demand overtime and extra effort in tricky phases, you can't just demand this from the team, but must also participate in it or set an example. If the team leader's heart is not in it, but rather leans back and relaxes, this quickly rubs off on everyone else. That leaves immoderateness. Do not let yourself go too well! Do not be wasteful and stay grounded. This applies to all areas of life and project management.

And now: How do you do it right?

A study by Deloitte, which looked at success factors in project development, lists nine success criteria. Here, Deloitte refers to the 2012 London Olympics, where valuable data was gathered. 
  1. Start early. Focus on your goal from the beginning and entrust a competent leader with project management at a very early stage.
  2. Get support, and get it from the top. Senior leadership must be behind any project or it is almost doomed to failure. Can you even find a director who is willing to personally take care of the project on a regular basis? All the better.
  3. Clearly define all terms. Define not only your goals, your criteria, your "Done", but also, for example, what Readiness means to you and to this particular project.
  4. Have an overarching strategy. Your goals are in place? Great. Now all that's left is to define a responsible person and a strategy for each goal. This is also the easiest way to implement new structures and approaches in the teams, if necessary.
  5. Assign each readiness activity to a very specific outcome of the overall project.
  6. Assign clear roles and communicate this assignment. Who is responsible for what and who is not? You can also involve external partners in this process. It helps everyone to know clearly who does what and who does not do what. This way, nothing is done twice and nothing is left undone.
  7. Try to learn from your experiences - from those of the last project but also from those of other projects, if possible. Keyword return of experience. Try to establish a learning culture and live it.
  8. Measure project progress continuously and talk about it. Spread the good news when a partial success is achieved or an interim goal is reached. That feels good.
  9. And last but not least: Always stay positive. Nothing is more motivating than optimism and if you manage to spread it, then your project is already a lot closer to the goal.
In its study, Deloitte argues that - and here point 9 comes into play again - it is always better to focus on the positive aspects and not even think about the deadly sins. Well, that's debatable, of course. Is it better to know, study and avoid the mistakes or to focus on the successes? Probably the royal road - as so often - lies somewhere in the middle.
Author: IAPM internal 

Keywords: Project management, Tip, Guide

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