Straight Talk on Project Management

Creating project management luck

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Three ways you can create your own IT Project Management luck!

Have you ever toiled with a cursed IT Project?

Imagine your server not arriving because there is a man standing on a gantry on the M1, shutting it for 28 hours. Imagine your kit arrives with American plugs. Imagine your lead architect getting stuck in Iceland because of a volcano erupting.

Sometimes I wonder how I still have any hair left!

All projects have an element of things that go wrong or are undetermined and occasionally you do get (what I call) ‘a cursed project’.

How you successfully deliver when all about you is collapsing like a house of cards is down to five key pillars.

1 – Your Reaction and Response to Whatever Calamity Has Presented Itself

2 – Your Processes

3 – Your Mastery of Project Management Basics

4 – Your Previous Experience and Qualifications

5 – Luck

The first four can be learned or gained over time – but what about luck?

A wise philosopher once said, “Good luck happens to people who work hard for it. Sometimes people just fall into the honey pot, but I’ve consistently strived to create whatever good fortune I can get in my life – and consistently strive just as hard not to screw it up once I have it!” OK, it was actually Patrick Duffy, Bobby Ewing in Dallas, who said this – but the point stands!

In IT Project management, you can work to create your own luck.

Here Are Three Ways IT Project Managers Can Make Their Own Luck.

Never Miss The ‘Obvious’, ‘Lucky’ Fix

When the kit turned up with the wrong plugs or when the lead that powers up your server for a large migration starting on a Friday night suddenly stops working – what do you do? If you relied on the process you would probably send it back and get another one – but the supplier is only available during office hours Monday to Friday.

Do you throw your hands up in the air and declare “job stopped” and go off and enjoy your weekend?

Or, do you figure that the cable is standard and probably stocked by the local RM component shop, make the call, get the lead and get back on track?

Of course, the second option is more likely to lead to project success – I have heard of kettles giving up their power cables to keep a project on track out of hours. The Project Team pulled an over-nighter with no coffee! Now that’s sacrifice – but you gotta do what you gotta do!

Develop A Helicopter View

Having a holistic view of your entire project is a key part of creating your own luck. Forewarned is forearmed!

My colleague David Cotgreave wrote about the value of the helicopter view to your IT Project, in his blog “How to stop your project going off-piste – lessons in project management from the ski slopes”. He writes, “I love the helicopter view. On IT Projects, I hover at my helicopter at ten thousand feet – from where I can survey the entire terrain. My project dashboard is like a radar and when a disturbance is detected or someone on the ground signals for help I can zoom into a thousand feet, assess the problem and give advice and direction or, if necessary, land and roll my sleeves up!”

I love David’s analogy and recommend his blog.

For me, the helicopter view does even more.

It gives me the gift of luck!

To borrow David’s skiing analogy, if I’m totally 100% focused on an issue on the slalom course then I may not know about the avalanche that’s been triggered half way up the hill. However, by having a helicopter view, by really knowing the terrain and conditions you have an early warning of challenges and arrive better prepared.

In an IT Project, with a greater knowledge of the terrain, your mind subconsciously solves problems that haven’t even occurred yet. By taking a regular walk around your IT estate, you develop a sixth sense for the ‘what if’.

Be A Creator Not a Victim Of Circumstances

You are not a victim.

The world is FULL of victims. You hear it all the time … someone blaming the events of their life, their parents who did not give them enough love, their school that did not have good enough teachers or their Uni that didn’t have good enough facilities. Every government is the victim of the last or the global economy, football managers blame the referee, tennis players complain about the surface … victims, victims, victims. Blah! Blah! Blah!

In the Project Management World have you ever been a victim?

A victim of stakeholder interference, an unrealistic deadline or budget or a victim of scope creep.

Great Project Managers are never victims they are creators. They create it all, the stakeholder relationships, they agree realistic deadlines and budgets. And because they create it all they have more control over it all!

So, this week … Reclaim Your Power!

When we do this, when we take control, when we stop passing responsibility for our IT Projects to others … good things happen. When you’re not putting all your energy into blaming someone else you spot the opportunities, sometimes they’re small – like the £5 kettle plug lead and sometimes they’re huge like a chance to be the hero that delivers significant strategic business value through IT.

Thing is, you and I are responsible. You chose to be an IT Project Manager. You chose where to be one! You chose your IT Project mission, you chose those magnificent, audacious goals that would make a business difference. So why then choose to be a victim, to abdicate responsibility to someone else? The more you choose to derogate yourself, the more you ignore your responsibility, the more you play the victim – the more you’ll be one. Conversely, the more you act like the creator of your circumstances – the more you’ll be one too. And everyone will notice.

Hey, none of this is rocket science but if you want that little bit of luck you can work to create it.

Good LUCK!

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