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Project Management Myths Debunked

by Josh

Project Management Myths Debunked

Oh yes, let’s have fun with this one, shall we?

I want your myths in the comments, bucko!

Good Project Managers Make All Decisions By Themselves

While it’s true that project managers do have to make the final decisions in many cases on a daily basis, we certainly should not make them by ourselves. We utilize a portion of our daily stand-up meetings on my teams for discussion topics. These can be technical decisions or issues someone has run into which need to be addressed, or sometimes it’s just a new idea someone had about how to make our product better.

There are cases where I ask various individuals what they think and then make a decision, and other cases where I can delegate the decision to a team member or lead. Whenever possible, I like to have the team make their own decisions and not rely on me for this. Intelligent empowerment makes for a better team and a better end product.

Good Project Managers Deal With Problems Themselves

Dilbert.com

There is an ironic reality in which the more you fear failure, the more likely you are to fail. I’ve seen project managers try to cover up problems many times, and I’ve even done it myself. But that’s not a good way to run a project. The more open and transparent you can be with everyone, the better your chances of success. This is because you build trust by being open and honest, and you get help from other players when you need it.

Good Project Managers Are Control Freaks

Many have the image of a project manager as being a micro-managing control freak. Scheduling down to the nth degree is the best possible schedule, right?

Wrong.

I think the best project managers I’ve worked with do the exact opposite. They let the team manage their workflow and concern themselves mainly with interfaces to other teams or dependencies of some sort. I think project managers should be just another participant on the team when it comes to managing the day-to-day workflow of the team, unless the team runs into a problem and asks for help. For example, sometimes team members may have difficulty making a priority call about what to work on next. The project manager (or product owner if you are doing Scrum) can help by prioritizing items in the backlog this way.

Good Project Managers Make Projects More Complex

Dilbert.com
In my experience, this happens when the models of the project (WBS, schedule, etc.) do not accurately reflect reality. There certainly are cases where the project really IS that complex too. I think the best project managers are able to employ the least amount of complexity in project planning and execution artifacts as is possible and responsible.

If every one of your stakeholders can’t look at each and every project artifact and understand it intuitively, it’s too complex.

So, what project management myths would you like to debunk in the comments? I’m excited to see them!

Leave a Comment

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Holly January 25, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Myth: Using project management methodologies “slows down” a project.

I have a business owner/project sponsor who has a strong bias for action and feels “we don’t need all of this planning stuff, approvals, whatever”. “Let’s just move!!”

Let’s debunk that.

Reply

Josh January 25, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Thanks Holly! Sometimes, it’s true! So how do we best demonstrate that our processes are actually adding value to the project?

Reply

Mike Clayton January 25, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Josh

Nice post. I’ll start you off.

One of the commonest myths I hear is “PM is all about bureaucracy and form-filling”. I delight in saying: “don’t succumb!” Seriously, if the form or bureaucracy don’t fill one of two purposes, it is almost certainly a waste of time.

“What two?” you ask:
1. Getting your project done, to spec, on time and on budget
2. Doing so in a way that conforms to the standards of governance that your organisation requires (or should require) of you

The second one can give pause for thought. Some reporting and documentation is absolutely necessary to ensure sound decision-making and the right levels of oversight.

However, much of it is not – it’s just knuckle headed form-filling for the sake of un-challenged ritual or a simple CYA mentality.

Mike

Reply

Josh January 25, 2012 at 4:52 pm

I completely agree Mike. With every process we should always ask “what value does this add?”

Reply

R. Max Wideman June 9, 2012 at 12:04 am

Sorry Josh, but you as the form filler may well ask “what value does this add?” And for you the answer may well be zilch. But that is not the point. The question should be “What value does this add for the recipient?” (Or does the recipient even read it?!) In practice, the collective and comparative information over a number of projects, in a portfolio for example, may be critical information for the management of the organization’s assets.
Cheers, M.

Reply

Josh June 9, 2012 at 8:13 am

That’s a great point Max. When I write about value or quality, which is fairly often, those are always from the perspective of the end user/stakeholder.

In the example of use for program/portfolio management, they may certainly be a stakeholder too. If so, then a discussion should be had for the project manager to understand what value they need from their perspective.

And thanks for commenting Max, I have a lot of respect for you. It’s not every day a professional hero of mine comments on my blog!

Reply

R. Max Wideman June 9, 2012 at 10:58 am

Well, there’s always a first time :-)
M.

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