Project Management Just Unnecessary Overhead?…

Project Management Just Unnecessary Overhead?. Why fight a company culture that doesn’t support project management practices. Instead, go stealth. That’s the advice of Donna Fitzgerald writing in her column for The Nimble Project Manager. Donna has been writing the column since September ’02. She is also a co-founder of the The NewGrange Center for Project Management.

In the first of her three-part series on Stealth Project Management Stealth PM: How to craft a successful launch, quietly Donna offers three sets of declarations and standards for organizing a stealth project.

The three golden rules of stealth project management:

  • Keep the focus on tangible results, not activities.
  • Fly under the radar.
  • Beg forgiveness rather than ask permission.
Create an initial area of order:

  • Get clarity on the constraints of the project before you begin.
  • Get agreement on the appropriate level of risk in the project.
  • Objectively assess your sponsor and stakeholders.
  • Develop a scope statement.
  • Have a team-planning meeting to create a shared vision of the project.
Establish the communications channels:

  • Get agreement that the PM will be notified when a task is complete or falling behind, a.k.a. the no surprises policy.
  • Get agreement on status meetings.
  • Communicate with stakeholders via an informal kick-off meeting.
These are quite good lists of the declarations (agreements) needed to organize any project, particularly her advice to have team members declare tasks complete at the time they complete their tasks rather than waiting for the next status meeting. If only the next two articles were this good.

In her second article Stealth PM: Staying on track Donna falls back on conventional wisdom of managing projects making the usual prescription to control time, scope, and risk.

Donna wraps-up the series with Stealth PM: Learning from your mistakes. She urges the stealth PM to conduct an informal lessons learned.

  1. The document review
  2. The schedule review
  3. The staff review
  4. The communications review
  5. Reviewing the project diary
  6. The Personal SWOT review
  7. The feedback review
Donna describes the first five reviews as private thinking and investigation actions. Only at review six, the feedback review, does she write about getting others’ views and assessments on project performance.

While stealth PM might be a legitimate approach, it is based on a resignation towards the organization and in many ways is just a rehash of conventional wisdom. It’s the resignation that bothers me. Project managers and teams do their best work in moods of ambition, determination, and appreciation. What a hill to climb starting out in resignation. The three-part series takes a blind-eye to this issue. Successful projects are much more than the sum of their practices. It takes people operating in good spirits while tending to an always uncertain and unfolding future. Perhaps that’s why some companies don’t support usual project management practices; they are insufficient for success.
[Reforming Project Management]