Getting Back To Our Roots
Retrospectives mark the end of projects. Ask any seasoned project manager and they will spout the importance of retrospectives or lessons learned in providing key themes and pitfalls to avoid next time around. However, lessons learned in my experience do not capture fully the essence of “What SHOULD be done differently next time”. With the profession moving forward into new territory (e.g. PMBOK version 6 has Agile as a key theme) let us reflect and look back at our roots to ensure we are bringing forward those key lessons for continued success on our projects, programs and portfolios.
Learning from Our Founders
A search on the internet for Project Management will consistently point to Project Management Institute (PMI) as the world leader in support of 2.9 million project professionals for global advocacy, collaboration, education, and research. It was one fateful day in 1969 that two men met and decided to form PMI as a means for project managers to associate, share information and discuss common problems. Similar to the dawn of the Digital Age for IT professionals, PMI defined the career paths for so many of us. What better way to extract vital project management lessons than to meet one of the founders: James Snyder1 and ask him the question “Tell me what you have learned in your 48 years as a Project Management Professional…”
Click here for your opportunity to meet James Snyder in Toronto.
Learning from Our “Industries of Origins”
It is generally said that Project Management maturity in the “industries of origin” surpasses those that adopted the discipline more recently. That can certainly be said about the Construction Project Manager whose function has arguably been in existence since civilisation began building things. Although IT project management has had a stronghold since the Digital era, with the introduction of things such as the Agile Manifesto (developed purely for Software Projects), there are inarguably many lessons from our Construction colleagues that we need to be reminded of.
Being a novice at Construction project management, I turned to the PMI Construction Extension of the PMBOK®, where there are notably four additional knowledge areas: (1) Safety Management; (2) Environment Management; (3) Financial Management; and (4) Claims Management. In studying and interacting with PMs in Construction, I quickly discovered that there is much more beneath their “hard hat” exterior. Having 4 additional knowledge areas speaks volumes to the need for construction PMs to be much more diligent in their risk management practices, as failure is NOT an option when the stakes are higher.
Keeping a “Black Book”
For companies like the Boeing Company1, one of the largest airplane design and engineering firms in the world, failure is not an option. Boeing has kept a “black book” of lessons learned from design and engineering failures, from when the company was formed, to help its designers learn from the past. Having a black book and a culture that confronts failure openly significantly increases chances for successful projects.
Click here for your opportunity to attend the Inaugural event for the Construction Community: “Constructive Ingredients for Evolving Projects” in Toronto.
Looking Ahead to PMBOK® 6
One notable improvement with the new PMBOK® Edition 6 is that retrospectives are no longer confined to the Closing Processes but can be integrated throughout project execution via the new process called Managing Project Knowledge.
Click here to read about other changes coming in the PMBOK 6
It is clear that our task is not trivial. We are called to deliver successful projects, yet each project is considered a UNIQUE endeavour. If we adopt a continuous learning mindset or a “beginners mind”, I assure you that your perspective as a project manager will only grow. Let`s continue to learn from those who have been doing it a lot longer than us, while integrating these lessons with the new leaner and agile methods, which challenge the norms of our practice.
(1) Making Things Happen. Mastering Project Management