Project Management

Ready, Set, Wait!

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In late October 2014 many of us will be gathering in Phoenix for the PMI Global Congress 2014 - North America.

And I can't wait to get there! Hey! Why should I have to wait? Why can’t we have the Congress tomorrow?

Like all good things, this Congress will come in time! And, it is the "wait" that makes it worthwhile.

It is during the "wait" that speakers are lined up, topics chosen, and events planned.

It is during the "wait" that lecture content is developed, and powerpoints created.

It is during the "wait" that presentations are rehearsed, and delivery skills polished.

It is during the "wait" that white papers, the intellectual property that propels our profession to new highs, are written and published.

And so it is with any project that we are asked to tackle. We are always excited (ok, maybe not always) to be given a new challenge, and naturally we immediately want to jump in, dig around, pull together a team, and start the project.

But is this the best approach? Shouldn’t we “WAIT” to ensure that the team is really ready to begin the project?

I would suggest that we have done a good job, as a profession, in slowing down enough to do more planning before we jump into the work itself. However, there is still something missing before we even start the planning, which has the potential to greatly improve upon our planning and execution efforts.

If you study the PMI Project Management Framework there is a process buried under the Executing Process Group – Develop Project Team – that is often incorrectly considered something we do later in the project due to its placement on the framework. Yes, I know that physical placement on the framework has nothing to do with practice, but it is just hard to think of a process that sits smack dab in the middle of the framework to be something you must do from day one!

But it IS something that must begin doing on day one.

The best time to train your team is at the start. As Maria from the Sound of Music would say, “Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.” Why? Because you need the team to move from forming to storming to norming to performing as quickly as possible, and the earlier you begin the journey the more quickly they will become that rock-star-team you always dreamt about.

Surely we can all agree that there is value in building your team before they are expected to perform as a team. And, that there is value in training your team before they are expected to use their new skills. And, that there is value in having your team know, and understand, the project management tools, techniques, and processes before they are expected to use and follow them.

But every project is unique, as is every project team, and therefore they require tailored training based upon the experience, diversity, knowledge, aptitude, and attitude that the members bring to the group. But it is possible to develop one training program that can be used across multiple situations, and it is plausible that this program can deliver 80 to 100% of the training required for any given project team – with the remaining training needs being fulfilled from a toolbox of “session plug-ins” as needed.

How would you design such a training program? What should it include, how long should it last, how much detail should it attempt to deliver, and in what format should it be delivered? Does the team really need to understand the tools and techniques you will use or is it simply enough that the project manager does?

My advice is that the next time you are ready to jump in and start the work (even if it is just planning), remember to STOP! WAIT! TRAIN!

And then be rewarded with a stronger team!

[Bookmark this page as over the coming weeks we will discuss potential answers to the above questions, and, include examples of successes and failures regarding pre-project kickoff training. In the meantime, I would be interested in knowing your thoughts about this concept, as well as your experience in this area, so that your ideas can be incorporated into future postings here.

Posted by Dan Furlong on: August 26, 2014 04:48 PM | Permalink

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