Value Management and PMOs

I’ve been working on an initiative called “Value Delivery,” which will incorporate value management into our various PMO methods, tools, etc.  These activities are often listed as typical PMO functions, but this really only honored in the breach.  Value management never seems to take off given a PMO’s traditional emphasis on implementing project management methods, tools, training, etc.

In our approach, we will ensure that value management has its own identity, especially when it comes to training.  While value and benefit management is baked into the various program and portfolio standards around, it isn’t part of the typical project manager’s skill set.  Rolling out value management separately should emphasize the organizational and personal changes required to be successful.

What is value management’s objective? To ensure that execution remains focused on delivering against executives’s and stakeholder expectations. How does value management happen? Maybe the best way to illustrate is to briefly lay out the lifecycle we’re using below:

  1. Value Discovery: Establish a performance baseline
  2. Value Realization: Identify required process improvements and KPIs
  3. Value Optimization: Review and steer benefit attainment

PM Quote of the Day — Harold Geneen

It is much more difficult to measure nonperformance than performance

Hat tip: Jonathan Becher at Manage By Walking Around.

WSJ Interview on “The Experience Trap”

FYI, a Wall Street Journal article (“Dangers of Clinging to Solutions of the Past”) based in part on interviews w/ yours truly came out today (link here, page B4 in the paper).  Thanks to Kishore Sengupta of INSEAD for pointing the WSJ my way and to Phred Dvorak of the WSJ for conveying the perils of experience so well and so succinctly. 

As I’ve noted to a couple of colleagues, it is hard to believe that only 250 words of copy came out of two hours of interview time.  Insert your own joke re: my verbosity here…

Bridging the PM/Management Gap

I like the title of Sanjay Saini’s post on the lack of communication between project managers and senior management — “Make the Effort.” One can quibble with his specific suggestions, but his exhortation to communication more regularly, frequently,and transparently is right on:

Reviewing progress and profitability should not be something that waits until year’s end. Instead there should be some monthly or quarterly checkpoints in between. This regular communication should also include client feedback–both good and bad.

What to do with MBOs?

After a round of performance reviews with my team, I’m so with Jonathan Becher about the pitfalls of management by objectives (here).  It is easy to fall into the vicious cycle he describes, where

MBOs that measure outputs, rather than impact, [which then] cause outputs to decrease. Which encourages more bad management by bad objectives.

Poor MBO procesess also tend to encourage Pareto suboptimal solutions to business problems, especially when coupled with an out-of-whack incentive structure.  Like where the incentives for individual objectives — oh, let’s say bonus payments for objective achievement — outweigh those for more organization-wide objectives (e.g., firm margin, revenue growth, market share).

Not that I’ve seen that anywhere…

Accountability for “soft stuff” deliverables

Per an earlier post (here), I have a bee in my bonnet about “supporting” deliverables and how to measure their success.  The excellent comments from Glen and Stephen (here) pointed to the answer.  From Glen:

We are looking for cost savings, efficiencies, and other process improvements. This is the typical work flow process improvement approach. Extend that to the human processes – monetized – and you can define MOP’s and MOE’s [measures of performance and effectiveness respectively].

In retrospect, it should be obvious that training deliverables — and their measures and incentives — should make such deliverables accountable for the relevant process/solution/project/program success measures.   In other words, CRM call center training should be judged by the how well the call center solution delivers the intended capabilities.

This approach is not so obvious to many training professionals, largely because many have never been held to the same standard as process owners.   My experience — from observing a particularly savvy SAP customer — is that a few pointed questions do concentrate the trainers’ minds:

  • Are you worried that the training does not support the actual execution of the processes?
  • What do we need to change in our training approach so that it delivers value to the project?
  • Why am I spending money on training if it can’t be held accountable for project/process succeess?
  • Do you still wonder why trainers aren’t better paid?

PM Quote of the Day — Florence Nightingale

Apprehension, uncertainty, waiting, expectation, fear of surprise, do a patient more harm than any exertion.

This quote resonates during these uncertain and surprising times.  Florence Nightingale was one of the first medical professionals to recognize that the mind and body work, or don’t work, together.  Her insight was not merely derived from anecdote.  She pioneered the use of statistics in medicine, especially the visual representation of those statistics for non-expert audiences (example here).

Most of us don’t need a statistical analysis to know our teams will flounder without direction, especially now.  I’ve found a couple of posts that address this challenge:

  • Rita McGrath points out (here) one approach to getting teams unstuck — clarifying assumptions, reaching out to the future, and making decision rationales clear. 
  • John Baldoni focuses (here) on just how and why these are especially tough times for managers, and gives some suggestions that parallel Rita’s.

Not forgetting the talent that comes with an acquistion

Another post inspired by Mary Adams at the IC Knowledge Center, this time on value from M&A.  Her post (here) links to a roundtable discussion of intellectual capital issues from Mergers and Acquistions magazine (here).   Very interesting stuff…

However, I was quickly drawn to the article on page 60 about ensuring you get the most out of acquired talent.  As I’ve posted before, finding excellent talent has been one of the pleasant parts of the Business Objects acquisition.  Based on that article, I’m double-checking my plans and incentives as we deepen our integration.

PMBOK 4th Edition — People Skills Appendix

I’m curious about what the updated PMBOK Guide will have to say in the new People Skills Appendix.  What it includes will set the baseline for the topic (BTW, I’m not expecting any earth-shaking inclusions or exclusions).  It is good that the PMBOK Guide to will start to address such an important topic in a greater degree of detail.

In the meantime, a group we’ve worked with before — the Center for Business Practices — has a couple of useful short books that address these topics (FYI, book descriptions theirs):

  • What Makes a Good Project Manager offers a clear and succinct description of what it takes to be a competent project manager. The essays, book excerpts, and other materials in this book focus on key personal skills and interpersonal abilities that lead to project manager success, such as mentoring, decision-making, facilitating, and communication. 
  • Project Management Roles & Responsibilities provides comprehensive descriptions of the responsibilities, skills, and desired backgrounds for project personnel to guide you in crafting job descriptions that are appropriate for your organization, or to rethink the ways in which you have assigned responsibilities to existing positions.

Tom Peters: 80% good, 20% overboard

Tom Peters has a list on how to lead during what he calls “weird” times (post here, also read the comments here).  As always, he’s thought-provoking.  My biggest concern is that folks like to cherry-pick from Tom without understanding that the points in his “lists” often build on or reinforce each other. 

With that caveat, here is Tom’s list.  My comments are below in bold.

  1. Be conscious in the Zen sense. Think about what you are doing more than usual. Think about how you project.  (Crossderry: The last is critical at these times.)
  2. Meet daily, first thing, with your leadership team—to discuss whatever, check assumptions. Perhaps meet again late afternoon. Meetings max 30 minutes. (Crossderry: All good, harder for me to implement in a global team.)
  3. If you are a “big boss,” use a private sounding board—check in daily. (Crossderry: Interesting… hadn’t thought of that.)
  4. Concoct scenarios by the bushel, test ‘em, play with ‘em, short-term, long-term, sane, insane. (Crossderry: Too many leaders think that this means “just throw s*** against the wall” by rearranging everything or withdrawing to a bunker to do scenario planning.  Prime example of a topic that gets cherry-picked from a list. If you aren’t doing this w/ managing by walking around [MBWA] and working the phones, experts, customers, vendors, etc., you’re missing the point.)
  5. MBWA. Wander. Sample attitudes. Visible but not frenzied.  (Crossderry: The last is critical at these times.)
  6. Work the phones, chat up experts, customers, vendors. Seek enormous diversity of opinion.  (Crossderry: Oh yeah, no time to head for the bunker!) 
  7. “Over”communicate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  (Crossderry: Yup.)
  8. Exercise—encourage your leadership team to double up on their exercise.  (Crossderry: This verges on “double plus good” Motivation-speak.  How about “If you don’t exercise, start; if you’re not exercising enough, do more; if you’re already exercising enough, don’t stop.”)
  9. Underscore “excellence in every transaction.”    (Crossderry: You betcha… and it’s a nice loop back to point 1.)

Hat tip: Bas de Baar

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