Are you a process robot?

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If we are not careful we can let the process drive the project.

What drives the progress in your project?

  • The budget – are we overspent?
  • The timescales – are we behind with our deadlines?
  • Or maybe the task list – can I tick off this action?

There is a danger that our project managers are becoming bean counters and forgetting what drove the project into existence – the vision, and the benefits to be achieved by delivering a great project.
We do need to control the budget, the timescales and the tasks and we need processes to help us to do this. Concentrating too heavily on the process, however, doesn’t draw us closer to the benefits we were hoping to achieve – it actually puts us in danger of losing sight of them. And if we drift away from the original goal we will not get the return on investment which we were aiming for.

How can we ensure that the true value of the project is kept in sight?

By thinking about the other P – that is PEOPLE.

To escape the trap of becoming a process robot, we need to allow flexibility and creativity into our projects – and that can only be achieved with a little human touch.

For example, do you create a project plan and then present that plan to your team as a fait accompli?
Here’s another option. Put the plan together as a team, now it becomes a team plan, a team project, which means motivation and ownership levels will soar. What’s more, you’ve added a good dose of that all-important creative flair.
Encouraging ideas and creativity throughout the life of the project does not have to mean that PROCESSis thrown out of the window, it just means we need to be good at controlling the flow of ideas into the project.
If we can give our teams some degree of autonomy to do things as they see fit and to make their own decisions – up to a point – then the project will remain a team project.
But be clear with the team about where the boundaries lie and on what type of decisions you need to be consulted.

We are all very busy and under a lot of pressure to deliver more and more with less time and fewer resources, but we need to find time to show an interest in what our teams are doing. That is, a genuine interest.
Finding time to get to know your team and understand what makes them tick will actually save you time in the long run because you will have a highly motivated team, doing what they are interested in and doing it well.
By getting the balance right between PROCESS and PEOPLE, we will not only deliver projects – we will deliver GREAT projects.

This blog was based on a workshop I ran for this year’s Leading Edge Convention at the QEII Conference Centre in Westminster – for more information on Leading Edge have a look at their website.

Many thanks to Zac Medina, aged 17 from the Creative & Media Studio School, Huddersfield for his illustration of my Project Process Robot.