As Christmas once again approaches, I have been mulling over the importance of consistency in projects (maybe I’ve just had too much mulled wine).
This whole issue of consistency in projects is intriguing because great success may be achieved by the opposite of a consistent, reliable project manager. For instance, a brave and daring project manager; one who takes risks and perhaps one who doesn’t always play by the rules can often manage to achieve a brilliant result. But this style of management is erratic and will bring both highs and lows, success and failure in equal measure. At a time when organisations are striving for consistently successful delivery of projects, the risk-taking project manager should be re-thinking their approach. A bold approach to problems within a project can sometimes lead to an unexpected solution; great forward-thinking designs never arise from a group thinking in a controlled (some would say restrictive) way, but the majority of projects need rigorous controls if they are to deliver a successful end-product, whatever industry that might be in. If you take away the control the project in all likelihood will descend into chaos and a chaotic project is usually a failure.
So just how can you achieve consistency when managing projects? In some projects there can be so many variables, unexpected changes and risks that even the most dependable project manager will struggle to keep the project on course.
The most reliable way of becoming a consistent and successful project manager who will never fail (OK, rarely fail) is to study one of the well-recognised project management methodologies and then broadly follow that methodology, adapting as necessary for your own business and organisation but always retaining the key elements. Some of the iterative and interactive elements of agile project management can be combined with the more traditional approaches, providing the discipline of the formal method is not lost.
I know from experience that it is easy to be fired up about sticking to a methodology when you have just completed a PM training course but the realities of the workplace – whether it’s lack of resources, uncommitted senior management or political in-fighting – soon start to diminish that enthusiasm. This is when inconsistent project managers start to use only those parts of a methodology that they want to but it is under this pressure that the consistent project managers stick to a controlled way of working and consistently deliver successful projects.