The fun part of Project Design (a completely different animal to actually getting the project done) is to observe if the tenets of a well-run organisation are anywhere present. Designing a project is a brutal test on all levels, but it should happen as an opening step to management of what you designed.
The most difficult aspect of project design is to make clear, to the group of people involved, what the project is, what you are designing. I remember all so well that fateful day when I began a major reorganisation project, one that had the intent of making the firm more competitive and focused, not even necessitating a downsizing.
The day I met with the seven vice-presidents and group managers was fateful. I asked them, simply, what the project objective was. Not one agreed with another. They were not even in the same ballpark. So how could the CEO and Board expect success?
How did any of us know exactly what we were supposed to do, when we didn't even agree what the project was designed to accomplish? This is starting at 'Square One'. It also revealed a lot of other weaknesses in management communication and workflow.
What needs to happen is a "connect" between design and management - but you have to take the time to observe where those links aren't present, and where they are convoluted. It is so much easier just to go in and DO SOMETHING, than know what and why.
That is why it is fun to observe the setting up, the design of a project. But life goes on and you have to get something done. That is the reason why Performance Improvement is an ongoing activity - because the point of all of it is "readiness." Are you ready to respond to the request for a project? Get in and design it, then do it. That is a competitive edge.
Not surprisingly, on that fateful day, late in the afternoon and well into the evening, I sat with the CEO. We had to step back and clarify what it was he wanted the company to look like and act like at the end of the project - that each vice-president and group was part of that whole, not an empire unto themselves, then we could go forward. It wasted a lot of time, and made the end result so very much better.
Mari Novak and Steven Kelly are partners at KNO Slovensko. Their column appears monthly. Send comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
24. Apr 2000 at 0:00 | Steven Kelly