No matter what business we’re in, we’re all plagued by myths. They can be a system of beliefs in our organization, on our team, or even in our family. Project Management (PM) is no different.
We also can get tangled up in myths about efficiency and saving time that can actually end up thwarting our success.
5 Common Myths About Project Management – And How to Avoid the Myths
Myth #1: WE DON’T HAVE TIME TO BACKTRACK
Let’s fact it: things happen. Customers change their minds about what they thought they wanted, market forces change, and new threats and opportunities arise as new priorities surface. All of these changes can make the original goal of our project obsolete. Don’t fall into the trap of forging ahead without developing a new project agreement and project plan.
In my experience, it’s better to spend half a day re-launching the project based on the new Project Agreement then to create a final deliverable that no one wants, or to attempt to complete a project with inadequate resources and lack of support from the project sponsor.
Make your Project Agreement a vibrant, living document that is written knowing there will be changes. Make it a document that everyone understands and feels a part of. When you write a Project Agreement and simply file it, it doesn’t breathe or set the stage for further communication and discussion throughout the project.
Myth #2: WORKING WELL TOGETHER IS FLUFF STUFF
I’m not suggesting a group hug at every milestone. I’m talking about the impact on the project when people aren’t working well together.
The bad news is that an inability to work together towards a common goal can mean failure.
The good news is that you can find the root cause and change behavior.
Look for these gnarly roots:
- Lack of Commitment
- Lack of Interaction
- Lack of Interest in Constructively Resolving Conflict
When project lose and gain people during the execution of the project, it’s important that the new team develop new team guidelines and meeting protocols. This is necessary to facilitate working relationships, create a way to positively interact, and to prevent destructive conflict.
Don’t let “new” deter you. Let new people bring new ideas and energy to the project.
Myth #3: DOCUMENT ONLY WHAT THE BOSS WANTS TO SEE
Selling up is always important, but don’t document only what you want someone to see. It’s important to include the good, the bad, and the ugly. Industry-standard PJ practices require a critical project closeout phase that collects lessons learned, and gives your organization powerful historical knowledge from across the enterprise.
Think of it as giving every project a chance to take center stage and be a stand-up for the day. A company that can learn and grow, rather than continually repeat mistakes, will move faster.
As an employee, it’s frustrating to re-create the wheel. However, it is empowering when you see your work building upon others’ work, and vice versa.
Myth #4: DON’T BEAT A DEAD HORSE
When you have success, it’s hard to overdo it with communication. People need to see, hear, smell, and taste, success. Even small victories have a big impact.
It’s important to communicate and show success with early adopters, so people will understand what you’re doing and how they can be a part of the ongoing success.
Myth #5: THAT’LL NEVER FLY HERE
Maybe you’ve been around the block, but don’t disregard the ideas of your team. For people to communicate, they have to be in an environment that is safe and that allows for some blue sky and offbeat thinking.
If you foster an environment that shoots down ideas, then people will stop sharing ideas, and instead just take the easiest path with the least resistance. This is what we call mediocrity.
The next time you conjure up one of these myths, tops and rethink your approach. You can make changes – big and small – by beginning with your own awareness of them. Think of PM as a tool that clarifies, illuminates, and unifies, and ultimately brings you closer to the goal that is just ahead.
OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD
What myths are you attached to?
Buddhists believe that all suffering comes from attachment. Look at your attachment to various Project Management myths impact your long-term success, and, ultimately, your happiness.
This article contains excerpts from my book Cheetah Know How: How to Apply Project Management Skills Fast by Michelle LaBrosse, PMP, and Carey Earle.
Read my monthly column here in ISE magazine at https://www.isemag.com/author/michellelabrosse/. To read my business-oriented blogs, please visit Cheetah Learning Blog at http://www.michellelabrosseblogs.com/. My newest book is Cheetah Agile Projects: Be Fast and Flexible.