Scrutinizing Project Conventions

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Within the realm of project management--or any other complex system, for that matter--accurately identifying failure is difficult to the extreme. There are simply too many parameters to isolate, which makes writing about management a precarious proposition.  

Oh, there are certainly those cases where a project manager insists that no cost or schedule management systems be used, and it doesn't take long to drive that project into the ground. But in most other areas the link between act and consequence is not nearly so stark.

Renowned psychologist, B.F. Skinner, wrote that a variable rate of reinforcement virtually guarantees a behavior will continue. If that is so--and I believe it to be--then it follows that a practitioner who has experienced success using a particular technical approach may be inclined employ that approach over and over--even when it fails over half the time. That same practitioner might also be inclined to join with like-minded project managers to advance a new model or structure for success.

Their assertions may be correct and insightful universally, in some specific environs, or completely off base.

I entitled this post "Part 1" because I intend to take a close look at some conventions that may have been adapted in that spirit and without the scrutiny of an iconoclastic wise guy such as me.  

Next up:  Does risk management really help bring in projects faster, cheaper or with higher quality?

See relevant research from Project Management Journal® as reported in PMI Community Post: Avoiding Project Failure by Managing Organizational Culture
Posted by MICHAEL HATFIELD on: June 12, 2009 05:10 PM | Permalink

Comments (2)

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Anonymous
I believe the key to success over the long term is to know the technical processes and approaches very well so you can make a decision as to when to go outside the process. Flexibility and adaptability are the hallmarks of long term sucess.

Ted Shelly, PMP
There is certainly some good thought here. But I’ve come to the conclusion that we need to completely rethink how we define project failure and success. I believe the only realistic measure is Business Value. See my blog for a complete discussion: http://tedshelly.blogspot.com.

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