Even when speaking the same language, we all interpret words in our own way, with our own filters and supported by our personal or organizational context. We sometimes forget that others may define or react to the exact same word much differently than we do. In addition, organizations and areas within organizations may use and interpret the same word differently, depending on the context. As project managers, we don’t always understand the impact various contexts and these different interpretations can have on an organization’s ability to successfully implement change. As such we may find ourselves dodging verbal hand grenades – terms that can blow our organizational change projects right out of the water!
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We hear a lot about portfolio management. It’s a term that is often misunderstood or at least used to represent a variety of ways to manage multiple projects. But what is the approach to establishing an effective portfolio and determining the projects to include? How do we know what to put in the portfolio bucket?
Facilitating virtual project team meetings requires some conventional thought with a good dose of some out of the box thinking. A good project manager prepares well for all meetings and especially for those meetings held at a distance. In virtual meetings, the project manager needs to find creative ways to engage participants and know what people are really doing at the other end of a call. Have you ever attended a virtual meeting where someone is called upon and they don't answer or when a question is asked? Don't let that happen to you.
The advent of social media brings with it exciting new communications opportunities within projects. It also brings a new kind of risk. In the age of social media, project managers have a whole new communications dynamic to manage in their projects. This can create a radically different communications plan. It can also create the need to define communications recovery strategies and can impact how we define roles and responsibilities within projects.
Alot of project management is wrapped up in the idea of scheduling. Many project management software packages put the management of schedule front and centre; for some, it's all they really actually provide support for managing. Project management courses emphasize the ideas of managing the critical path, building Gantt charts and analyzing PERT networks. Much stress is created about project schedules, milestones, dependencies and deadlines.
Prioritization of projects involves making competing decisions. Sometimes the competition is between projects. At other times, the competition is between departments and business units. The decisions we make are based upon different projects, to accomplish different outcomes, by different areas of the organization. We aren't comparing apples and oranges; at times, we are comparing kumquats and bathroom tissue.
Risk management has a bad name. "Risk", like "politics", is a word weighted with negative baggage. When we hear the word, we view it as focussing on problems. Risk management on projects can become a doom-and-gloom exercise in finding all of the bad things that might go wrong, and coming up with plans of what to do about them.
Projects are hard enough when the focus is on getting the technical result produced, on time, on budget and to specification. When we add in the complication of getting that used, however, the challenge becomes much more significant. Organizational change requires the evolution of structures, roles, responsibilities. processes and - above all - behaviors. It is all about getting people to work in new and different ways, and to embrace why they need to make this change.
One of the essential activities in managing portfolio performance is monitoring the overall performance. For too many organizations, however, this simply means stapling individual status reports together and calling it a consolidated view of portfolio status.