Envisioning – Learning the Mission and Your Team

How difficult is it to tie mission, to assigned resources and align to senior management deliverables?  After working in a PMO office, this can be a killer of projects especially when their is a failure in the conceptual understanding of the Mission between the PM Lead and the Project SME.  Given the new complexity or projects, it is assumed that project resources have real world knowledge of the service, tool or process.   In two occasions, the “learning on the job” mentality is used in organizations with cultures that assume PM expertise will translate to project success.  Because the initial phase where project members, vendors and senior leaders align is not fully understood, project impacts can grow due to the lack of leadership.  As an example, one of my former employers wanted to deliver an Asset Management project in order to reduce the cost of employees onboarding from 5 days down to 1 day (3 hours).  In this time, they wanted their ID, Computer and Applications available.  The PM did not have any experience in Asset Management, Tools and Procedures.  In addition, the PM was not familiar with the environment (network or systems) which created problems when trying to align the mission, charter and resources to the overall outcome.  Initiation (envisioning) must be considered as a crucial part of team alignment to goals.  It is also an opportunity to switch resources that have little or no depth in the topic.  Due to the misinformation communicated by the project manager in this case, senior leaders cancelled the project.  The strategic value in terms of hard cost associated with idle employees and soft cost associated with early system access was lost.  The operational value and capability was introduced in a project managed by a vendor that provided an end to end system that worked throughout the environment which fed asset inventory tools.    The fact that the PM focused solely on a reporting tool meant the project would never proceed.

 

2 thoughts on “Envisioning – Learning the Mission and Your Team

  1. Original Post quote: “The PM did not have any experience in Asset Management, Tools and Procedures. In addition, the PM was not familiar with the environment (network or systems) which created problems when trying to align the mission, charter and resources to the overall outcome.”

    I agree it’s critical for the Project Manager to have an clear understanding of the project goals and vision. It’s also critical that he or she has a high level understanding of the product, tools, and procedures. One distinction I would make is that – from my experience, it is not necessary for the project manager to have prior experience with these areas before joining and leading a project. If the person does not have subject matter expertise, there are effective ways to bring up to speed the project manager and explain the infrastructure, goals, and inner workings of the teams. In other words, if someone provides a “crash course” to the project manager to familiarize them with the product/team/specific goals and outcomes, that project manager can be just as successful as someone who has deep expertise in the project work.

    Specifically, often it’s helpful for the project manager not to be a technical subject matter expert, so that he or she can remain high level enough to steer and guide the project using the project management methodology and tools.

  2. I agree with you on the crash course. In this instance, this PM was against any knowledge on the specifics of Asset Management until later in the project when things went south and senior leadership (one of which knew the solutions well) challenged her on outcomes. Interestingly enough, those solutions where shot down by this PM in our team meetings. When we discussed risk, we actually listed her group as High. I believe we were looking for a PM that worked with the team to identify the best outcome. One interesting thing of note, we went to the Gartner conference and received similar direction as we discussed in our team meetings. I think we had a bad PM in my estimation with very tactical outcomes predefined. Thanks for your post.

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