Owning your change program

It has been a while since I’ve checked out my leadership counterparts on Alltop… I found some tasty posts from bloggers I hadn’t seen before.  Melissa Dutmers at Riverfork challenges us to not fall back on conventional wisdom:

…that the greatest contributor to success is “active and visible executive sponsorship” (this is corporate speak meaning high level executives are supposed to inspire and influence their people). I don’t buy it. I believe that the number one success factor for leading change is YOU (emphasis Melissa’s). 

I agree.  The need for executive sponsorship is almost a truism; as Melissa notes, “you need the support of a high-level manager or executive to approve the idea”. 

But can a change leader stop at formal approval?  Are you content with leaving the “active and visible” part of executive sponsorship to the executive him/herself?  For example, do you bother to draft that announcement e-mail or put together talking points for the exec to use with the board?  Do you make the leadership the first part of the communications plan, not the last?

Don’t PMs get that they’re “business” people yet?

I saw a somewhat depressing article in this month’s PM Network about the need for project managers to get business-savvy.  Not that there’s anything wrong with what Gary Heerkens writes (the article itself is here).  What saddens me is what this article implies about the mindset of project managers:

  1. Too many project managers don’t see “business understanding” as part of their job.
  2. This expectation isn’t explicit enough in PM job descriptions or how PM performance is managed.
  3. PMs seem to want the title, but not the responsibility. 

IMO, a project manager who can’t participate in business discussions can’t meet the substantive requirements of whole swaths of the PMBOK Guide.  How can a project manager participate in charter, scope, and change control discussions without knowing the business?  Otherwise, aren’t they really project coordinators, assistants, etc.?  As Gary notes (and understates):

Basing choices solely upon technical or functional considerations means all of the critical inputs required to make the best possible decision aren’t being considered.  Project managers who do not understand the business aspects of their projects are destined to make subpar decisions from time to time.

Non-Financial Ways to Engage and Motivate

I hadn’t seen this blog before (here), but I liked this post that compiled tips focusing on non-financial incentives and practices (here).  The suggestion to “establish an appraisal system where clearly defined objectives are mutually agreed” seemed benign enough, but adding the phrase “appraisals should be continuous, not just once a year” put some punch in it.

I’ll need to remember this advice when planning my next round of bi-weekly standing meetings  with my team.

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