Can feedback improve your project management?
Last week I attended a rally in front of New South Wales Parliament to protest against the changes to legislation that allows hunting to occur in NSW National Parks. I feel lucky to live in a city, in a country, where this kind of activism is possible. Contrast this with parts of the world where voting is a bloodsport and dissent is life-threatening and it puts a lot of our complaints about government in perspective.
Coming as it does from an Editor (capital E deliberate), this post may seem like some sort of fortnightly project management gospel. Oh how I wish it were, dear reader! Far from being an expert in project management, I am instead an expert in conceptual synthesis, which is to say I listen to people in the project management space and assemble a view based on what I hear. Not only could I be listening to the wrong people, I could be putting things together in my head the wrong way (and this is far from unusual). Therefore, fallibility is inevitable.
Fortunately, a lot of feedback suggests I get things right most of the time. Sometimes, however, I misstep and I’ll receive an email pointing out a disparity.
In a previous post, Revisiting the project management triangle, I suggested that project managers may be able to ‘cheat’ at meeting requirements by simply adjusting expectations and reorganising the triangle of time, cost and quality. As reader Ted Tooher pointed out, the project management triangle is “generally recognised as time, cost and scope, not quality”. Mea culpa. But not an uncommon mistake. The same post caused another reader to offer to write an article in response, which I will happily publish in due course.
Last post, Do projects look better in hindsight?, drew Risk Doctor David Hillson to gently mention that perhaps I’d confused benefits for opportunities: “An opportunity is an uncertain event that positively affects our ability to meet objectives. The things you list are the objectives.” Indeed I had. I’d blame the mix-up on jet lag except I didn’t suffer from any.
All this self-deprecation does have a point. Besides a thank you to those who are contributing to my education, I want to know how often your project team feels comfortable enough to speak up about something they feel is going wrong, or something they feel you are doing wrong. If you don’t hear it, you need to ask yourself ‘why not?’ because you could be missing something crucial. Remember the lessons from NASA?