Why Giving Up Control is Good for Your Methodology...and Your Projects

Mark Mullaly is president of Interthink Consulting Incorporated, an organizational development and change firm specializing in the creation of effective organizational project management solutions. Since 1990, it has worked with companies throughout North America to develop, enhance and implement effective project management tools, processes, structures and capabilities. Mark was most recently co-lead investigator of the Value of Project Management research project sponsored by PMI. You can read more of his writing at markmullaly.com.

Methodology. Process. Framework. These are three words that, in the world of project management, define much of the organizational expectations placed upon project managers. There are, of course, those who will argue that these describe different concepts and should be interpreted with different meanings. But the essential point is the same: They are trying to define expectations of how projects should get managed.

An important question to ask is, “Why do we have processes, anyway?” Specifically, if you have well-trained and capable project managers, shouldn’t you just get out of their way and let them got on with the job at hand? Certainly, there are many project managers that would like that state of affairs: many of us value our independence and the autonomy to do what we think is right. Some organizations essentially manage in this way, adopting a fairly hands-off attitude to what is done in the name of project management. Most organizations, however, have a bias toward establishing a consistent and defined approach to the delivery of their projects. They value standards, they define processes and they mandate templates that are to be employed at each stage of the project process.

I have certainly been guilty of advocating for improvements in process, increases in consistency and enhancements of rigor in how projects are managed. Over two …

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I see where one young boy has just passed 500 hours sitting in a treetop. There is a good deal of discussion as to what to do with a civilization that produces prodigies like that. Wouldn't it be a good idea to take his ladder away from him and leave him up there?

- Will Rogers

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