PM Quote of the Day — Henry Ford

Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you’re right.

I’m not exactly the biggest fan of Henry Ford — he had some unsavory sides and associations (here and here) — but this quote is spot on.  I remembered it as I was writing my comments on yesterday’s  quote from Colette (here).

When I am obsessed with control, I often consciously or unconsciously sabotage myself and others. This happens when my desire to ensure the dominance of my role becomes more important than my desire to ensure the quality of the results.

If I’m not getting my way, I must carefully check my motives when challenging decisions or directions.  To do so, I ask myself these simple, but not easy, questions:

  • Am I acting in such a way that will benefit my project or team, or am I simply trying to assert control?
  • Am I sabotaging work by being more concerned about confiming my belief that “we cannot do a thing”?

Warming up the old “functional vs. project skills” chestnut

Sreejith at PM Karma takes a crack at resolving the debate about whether functional or project management skills are more important when leading initiatives.  I’ll let you agree or disagree with his take directly on his post (here).

My take is that this topic is one where our friend — the much-maligned PMBOK Guide — is perfectly sound.  The discussion on pages 12-15 of the 3rd Edition (Section 1.5: Areas of Expertise) lays out the basic elements that the project management team must understand and use:

  • The project management body of knowledge (please note that Figure 1-2 on page 13 of the 3rd edition clearly depicts that the PMBOK Guide is a subset of the PMBOK itself).
  • Application area knowledge, standards, and regulations.
  • Understanding the project environment.
  • General management knowledge and skills.
  • Interpersonal skills.

If you’re looking to ensure that your project team has all the requisite skills and competencies, you could do worse that building a simple checklist derived from Section 1.5 of the 3rd Edition.  And yes, it is the project team, not the project manager.

Team Composition — All-stars, role players, or both?

I saw this post by Keith Sawyer a while ago about team composition (here).  There’s a teeny bit of jargon, but the results correspond to my experience.  I’m not sure that there’s an optimal mix, but neither all stars nor all-B players seems to work well. 

What is clear from the study Keith cites is that the motivation and performance of less-skilled team members (or IGM for “inferior group members”) improves when mixed in with superior performers.  The post’s comments are excellent, and Keith explains the why IGM motivation would increase in his comment:

There are two possible reasons why IGM motivation could increase in mixed groups: one is “upward social comparison,” the IGMs adjust their performance upward… the flip side of this is that the superior GMs would then be expected to adjust their performance downward…. The authors of this article note this too: “One frequent concern is that motivation gains of IGMs might come at the price of motivation losses by superior group members so that the overall gain for the group outcome might be nullified.”

The second reason is “social indispensability,” the IGM motivation goes up if they know their contribution is critical to the group product. But if the IGM senses that their contribution is NOT indispensable, their motivation goes down. That happens when, for example, the group’s performance is determined by the strongest individual performance, or when a poor performance by one member can be compensated for by another.

%d bloggers like this: