“My psychiatrist told me I was crazy and I said I want a second opinion. He said okay, you’re ugly too.”
Just like dear departed Rodney Dangerfield, project managers get no respect!
The Harvard Business Review has a website, where you can find decades of great business articles from the magazine. Subscribers can go to their website, and see 107 articles about project management. If that sounds like a lot, realize that if you enter “execution,” you will get 1,180 results. Ouch!
Kevin Rollins of Dell said in a 2005 interview:
“Why can’t everybody be Wal-Mart or JetBlue or Samsung or whatever the best company in their industry is? Because it takes more than strategy. It takes years of consistent execution for a company to achieve sustainable competitive advantage. So while Dell does have a superior business model, the key to our success is years and years of DNA development within our teams that is not replicable outside the company. Other companies just can’t execute as well as we do.”
What is execution? It’s getting projects done! And executing consistently requires excellent project management. The greatest ideas won’t come to anything without project managers to accomplish them.
Most of us have worked for companies where the leaders act like they only have to tell everyone what the strategy is: that execution is everyone else’s job. When their great vision was not realized, executives get frustrated, because they think they’re being ignored. However, the reason strategy was not executed was more complicated. Without determining a connection to execution, the strategy is just words on paper: not anything that can guide my decisions as an employee. Employees need to understand organizational strategy, understand the key initiatives chosen to achieve it, and select the correct performance measures. If this happens, employees can see how their work contributes to results, and make decisions in line with strategy.
Portfolio management is the bridge between project management and organizational strategy. Strategies cannot be implemented without good portfolio management, and neither can be implemented without excellent project management. When managers use their strategic objectives as the basis for determining which projects are selected and given priority, the end result is that only those projects that move them towards their long-term goals will be undertaken.
Organizations can’t accomplish their great strategic goals without our help — we literally make their dreams reality! Yet project management isn’t seen as an express train to the executive suite — people still look at us as just tactical workers. We can help raise our own visibility, and the perception of project management within our company, by working to understand the bigger picture. Why is this project we’ve just been assigned to an important one for our company? What’s the overall objective we’re trying to achieve, and why? You need to know how the project fits into the overall goals of the firm, in order to make others in the firm recognize the importance of your work.
Project management might not get a lot of respect now, but you can change that — at least for yourself! Make sure folks in your company know that you’re not just the ant in the anthill who gets things done, but someone who wants to help their company achieve a vision, and that they can’t do that without you! Manage your projects to the best of your ability, and make sure you understand (and can speak to) the bigger picture. Don’t be like Rodney!
“I told my psychiatrist that everyone hates me. He said I was being ridiculous – everyone hasn’t met me yet.”