Modern approaches to project management promise better results, in half the time. Still, if your new methods are going to have a strong foundation to build upon, there is no way to avoid using classic tools.
“How to quadruple your project performance” or “become agile in your project management and achieve your goals in half the time”. Like many others, I have experienced my inbox and LinkedIn newsfeed overflowing with alluring offers, all of which are reminiscent of TV infomercials and their promises of rock-hard abs in no time.
By all means, you have to keep an open mind when it comes to new tools, but are tweaked project methods really capable of getting fast results, like you would get from tuning a moped? According to a long list of international studies, this is not the case. Standish Group has for example proven, that the average maturity has only increased marginally over the last ten years, despite massive investments in project management.
There is no getting around the fact that you need to do countless sit-ups before you can have visible abs. Similarly, project organizations do not achieve their results without putting in the effort. This might happen occasionally, but I would argue, that it is a rarity.
Difficult to devise a plan
A study conducted by Peak Consulting Group indicates, that nine out of ten project managers lack the competencies needed to devise a plan. The majority the of project organizations consider themselves to be above average, when asked about their project management maturity level.
At the same time, however, they consider themselves bad at or completely unable to devise a credible plan. Their project managers do not use disciplines such as product decomposition estimation or critical weighing. But why is this the case, when people invest massively in competence building and implementation of project models?
It is my experience that the majority of project managers have previously mastered these competencies, but that their organizations, attempting to simplify and streamline the project course, have ended up in a situation where traditional project virtues are pushed to the side-lines instead of being used as a project foundation.
Back to a paleo diet
When new project approaches promise to boost project performance in no time, it is almost always on the premise that the organization has competent and experienced project managers at its disposal, who master fundamental project tools. My impression is, however, that project managers are often confined within rigid frameworks, that do not allow the space to build a proper foundation.
Are you then supposed to cast aside all new approaches and new inspiration? Of course not. There are certainly pearls of wisdom to be found amongst the new project approaches, but there is often more to be gained from mastering the fundamental project competencies.
Over the last few years, many people have jumped on the paleo diet craze, where the goal is to get rid of modern food and steer towards a more traditional Stone Age diet. In a similar vein, many organizations would benefit from changing their diets to old project virtues. There are no quick fixes, when aiming for effective projects.