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A project professionals kryptonite
Do project professionals have kryptonite-like encounters or situations, that is, something that causes “detrimental effects” when the project professional comes in contact with it? If so, what are these, and do they look different based upon role (e.g., project manager, scrum master, business analyst, etc.).
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George, I'd suggest that weak, invisible or generally ineffective sponsors would be pretty lethal, especially if they are unable to get this issue resolved.
I agree with Kiron regarding the ineffective sponsor. But I would add the low to non committed stakeholder. It is compounded if they are a SME as well and have critically needed input.
My worst kryptonite comes from micro-managing resource managers. Whether the project is strict waterfall, scrum, kanban, or some mix, most PMs do not "own" the project resources as direct reports and request people from shred pools controlled by resource managers. When the PM is able to assign and manage the work for each resource as needed to stay on plan things go swimmingly. But when each assignment has to be approved by the resource manager and is subject to arbitrarily shifting priorities it's nearly impossible to maintain a schedule.
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1 reply by Wade Harshman
Feb 07, 2020 3:07 PM
Wade Harshman
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Along those lines, managers and executives who want to do my job are my kryptonite. This is because they often have the organizational authority to take over, so there's little I can do to stop them. I actually left one position over this and flatly told them not to hire a replacement for me because there were executives already doing the job.
Feb 07, 2020 2:39 PM
Replying to Scott Theus
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My worst kryptonite comes from micro-managing resource managers. Whether the project is strict waterfall, scrum, kanban, or some mix, most PMs do not "own" the project resources as direct reports and request people from shred pools controlled by resource managers. When the PM is able to assign and manage the work for each resource as needed to stay on plan things go swimmingly. But when each assignment has to be approved by the resource manager and is subject to arbitrarily shifting priorities it's nearly impossible to maintain a schedule.
Along those lines, managers and executives who want to do my job are my kryptonite. This is because they often have the organizational authority to take over, so there's little I can do to stop them. I actually left one position over this and flatly told them not to hire a replacement for me because there were executives already doing the job.
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1 reply by Adrian Carlogea
Feb 09, 2020 9:07 AM
Adrian Carlogea
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Hi Wade,

It is those executives and managers ultimately responsible for the success of the projects and not the PMs. The reason they intervene in the running of the projects is more than obvious and it is common sense especially in critical projects.

In addition many PMs are subject matter experts in project management only and they are unable to lead the project teams at the technical level. You need technical (functional) managers to lead the project team members when it comes to work-related decisions. Those managers that are managing the project team members don't want to do the PM's jobs they just want to manage their direct reports focusing on the work related issues that are part of the project.
Dear George,

My Kryptonite is the yes man ( Stakeholders ) are willing to help and solve everything ( very sociable ), but in practice never move a finger to solve nothing and everytime we ask to do something again they say yes again and never nothing is done. As result delays and pending tasks sometimes become unbearable. So the solution is avoid falling down in that trap.

Alexandre
@All,

It looks like we have a common strain of kryptonite – “Stakeholders.”

Finding the formula that makes stakeholder kryptonite inert has been the “holy grail” of projecticians for half a century. I believe it’s time for us to radically-accept the nature of our nemesical benefactors and focus our efforts on an antidote for neutralizing the effects of the kryptonite on ourselves and our teams.

If you agree with this metaphorical resolution, how do we accomplish it?
Feb 07, 2020 3:07 PM
Replying to Wade Harshman
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Along those lines, managers and executives who want to do my job are my kryptonite. This is because they often have the organizational authority to take over, so there's little I can do to stop them. I actually left one position over this and flatly told them not to hire a replacement for me because there were executives already doing the job.
Hi Wade,

It is those executives and managers ultimately responsible for the success of the projects and not the PMs. The reason they intervene in the running of the projects is more than obvious and it is common sense especially in critical projects.

In addition many PMs are subject matter experts in project management only and they are unable to lead the project teams at the technical level. You need technical (functional) managers to lead the project team members when it comes to work-related decisions. Those managers that are managing the project team members don't want to do the PM's jobs they just want to manage their direct reports focusing on the work related issues that are part of the project.
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1 reply by Wade Harshman
Feb 09, 2020 9:24 AM
Wade Harshman
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I understand the importance of management and executives, but as you said, I'm the SME on project management. Specifically, I'm the SME on MY projects. If someone else wants to manage my project, then I shouldn't be on the team. I can't think of anything more wasteful than putting a well-paid PM on a team and then not letting her/him do the job. It's even worse if the project is in progress and an executive suddenly decides to take an interest and make it her/his project, because s/he hasn't been involved and doesn't know why we made the decisions that we made.

It's no different than, for example, hiring a software developer and then letting a VP write all the code, or hiring a chauffeur and then making him sit in the back seat while you drive.

All of this is only meant in the context of this conversation. What is it that makes Superman weak? Kryptonite. What's something that can make a good project manager powerless? Executives.
Feb 09, 2020 9:07 AM
Replying to Adrian Carlogea
...
Hi Wade,

It is those executives and managers ultimately responsible for the success of the projects and not the PMs. The reason they intervene in the running of the projects is more than obvious and it is common sense especially in critical projects.

In addition many PMs are subject matter experts in project management only and they are unable to lead the project teams at the technical level. You need technical (functional) managers to lead the project team members when it comes to work-related decisions. Those managers that are managing the project team members don't want to do the PM's jobs they just want to manage their direct reports focusing on the work related issues that are part of the project.
I understand the importance of management and executives, but as you said, I'm the SME on project management. Specifically, I'm the SME on MY projects. If someone else wants to manage my project, then I shouldn't be on the team. I can't think of anything more wasteful than putting a well-paid PM on a team and then not letting her/him do the job. It's even worse if the project is in progress and an executive suddenly decides to take an interest and make it her/his project, because s/he hasn't been involved and doesn't know why we made the decisions that we made.

It's no different than, for example, hiring a software developer and then letting a VP write all the code, or hiring a chauffeur and then making him sit in the back seat while you drive.

All of this is only meant in the context of this conversation. What is it that makes Superman weak? Kryptonite. What's something that can make a good project manager powerless? Executives.
...
1 reply by Adrian Carlogea
Feb 09, 2020 8:09 PM
Adrian Carlogea
...
Hi Wade,

Very often management and the business users change their minds and when they do there is no point on continuing with the existing plan. If you do continue then you would deliver something that nobody really wants.

I feel that many PMs are eager to deliver the project no matter what and get very upset when the business users change the requirements on the go or management (executives) change priorities.

But look at the bright sight if stakeholder management had been a easy task then project management would have been a trivial job, less important and most likely paid less.

PMs complaining about the stakeholders being their worse problem in project management is like firefighters complaining that fire is what prevents them to do a better job. :P
Difficult stakeholders in Matrix organisation can make your project impossible to succeed. And by "difficult" I mean they have exceeded all limits ...
Feb 09, 2020 9:24 AM
Replying to Wade Harshman
...
I understand the importance of management and executives, but as you said, I'm the SME on project management. Specifically, I'm the SME on MY projects. If someone else wants to manage my project, then I shouldn't be on the team. I can't think of anything more wasteful than putting a well-paid PM on a team and then not letting her/him do the job. It's even worse if the project is in progress and an executive suddenly decides to take an interest and make it her/his project, because s/he hasn't been involved and doesn't know why we made the decisions that we made.

It's no different than, for example, hiring a software developer and then letting a VP write all the code, or hiring a chauffeur and then making him sit in the back seat while you drive.

All of this is only meant in the context of this conversation. What is it that makes Superman weak? Kryptonite. What's something that can make a good project manager powerless? Executives.
Hi Wade,

Very often management and the business users change their minds and when they do there is no point on continuing with the existing plan. If you do continue then you would deliver something that nobody really wants.

I feel that many PMs are eager to deliver the project no matter what and get very upset when the business users change the requirements on the go or management (executives) change priorities.

But look at the bright sight if stakeholder management had been a easy task then project management would have been a trivial job, less important and most likely paid less.

PMs complaining about the stakeholders being their worse problem in project management is like firefighters complaining that fire is what prevents them to do a better job. :P
...
1 reply by Wade Harshman
Feb 11, 2020 4:01 PM
Wade Harshman
...
To be clear, though, I'm not complaining about stakeholders. The question was about our PM kryptonite, which I interpreted to mean what is it that makes us weak or powerless project managers? The "thing" that makes me powerless is an executive who wants to take over, because I have no authority to keep that from happening.

My answer hasn't changed, but it's only meant within the context of this conversation.
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