Being in the project management software business for the last 15 years has given us the opportunity to work closely with project managers from various industry verticals across the globe. One of the largest challenges we hear from business leaders is the fear of project failure. Setting up the right processes and tools can resolve most of the tactical issues but addressing the fear of project failure needs an entirely different approach. In this blog, I will cover aspects that will help the team overcome the fear of failure.
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Culture of Accountability
Once the project scoping and planning is done, it’s all about execution. Culture plays a very crucial role in ensuring the project momentum is maintained across the entire timeline. One of the important aspects of a high-performance work culture is accountability. When a project is broken down into smaller pieces with specific goals, processes, and metrics, people across the hierarchy need to take ownership of goals and outcomes. When the entire organization is aligned to the principle of being collectively accountable for results, it makes success that much more certain. It takes integrity, passion and perseverance to walk into work every day and sustain that level of ownership. Organizations also have an equally important role in creating an environment where accountability thrives and is rewarded.
Subscribing to the Big Picture
People who are part of project teams in large organizations often tend to feel like a grain of sand in a desert. They don’t get to see how their work impacts the organization or the end customer. Over a period this could affect performance levels and thereby project outcomes. Also, this ties into building a high-performance work culture, where every single employee subscribes to a broader vision, at a project and an organization level. Companies such as Google, Apple, and Facebook (just to name a few) have built a culture where employees thrive on innovation, agility, and accountability. Organizations need to have a well thought out approach to communicating the big picture to ensure that employees believe in it. Leaders have a significant role to play in leading the organization by example. I remember reading about the CEO of an ailing Japanese airline taking a big pay cut and demonstrating austerity by moving out of his cubicle to sit with employees. What better way to commit to company turnaround than to give up your cozy cabin and exclusive benefits and accompany your staff for lunch at the company cafeteria.
Process & Technology Adoption
You can’t go to war without a game plan and weapons to back you up. It’s the same with project management. If you don’t have well-laid processes and tools to track progress, you would be right to fear eventual failure. Large projects have a lot of moving parts with multiple teams getting involved at various stages. Add to those complexities like multiple locations, time zones and external vendors and you have some serious challenges at hand. Setting up the right processes to ensure that work gets done in the fastest, most accurate manner is a must have for project success. Project Management and collaboration tools come into play to ensure that projects are being tracked through the lifecycle, and things are proceeding as per plan. Most organizations form a Project Management Office (PMO) to create and oversee processes, improve project management system adoption and ensure compliance.
Measure, Monitor & Report key Metrics
When it comes to executing projects, surprises are not welcome. It starts with agreeing on the right set of success metrics with customers and stakeholders. These set of metrics become the progress indicators for teams, stakeholders and clients along the way. Apart from success metrics, organizations need to track key business metrics such as productivity, budget adherence, and quality. Project Managers typically are accountable for measurement, monitoring, and reporting of success metrics to the organization and customers. This helps them identify potential risks, enabling them to raise the flag as needed and take steps to mitigate them.
Coping with Change
Let’s agree on one thing – Things change, even projects do! Somewhere along the project, requirements could change, people could leave, leadership could change, stakeholders could change, processes could get tweaked, and tools could get added to the mix. Well that’s life, isn’t it? The bad news is that there is no way to avoid it. The good news is that you can manage it. The best and the only way to manage change is to be prepared for it and accept it once it comes. Leaders have to take change management beyond just communication and play a more active role in bringing about change. It is really about having an astute understanding of people, market and the business environment with the ability to foresee the impact of the change. Just think; if Kodak embraced the advent of digital photography and made the shift, it would have written a different history for itself. Change is hard, but the rewards are worth it!