“Over the last decade or so, most companies have adopted a team approach in virtually every aspect of their business,” writes Yaniv Shor, author of ‘Time to Deliver’.
“Companies have become very clear in their messaging that the entire team is in it together, working toward a common goal.”
When Shor has something to say, I like to listen. His book is a useful addition to any Project Manager’s bookshelf, and his blogs for Forbes (like this one) and other outlets are always thought provoking and insightful … but is he right when he says, “When it comes to project management, however, many companies take a much more top-down approach. The project manager or project management officer sits at the top of the hierarchy, typically the only one with access to the overall project plan, directing the entire team”?
Maybe it’s a geographical anomaly, maybe Yaniv is very cleverly planting the seed that will steer you to buy Proggio’s project management tools which lean into the ethos of visibility across the whole team (he’s the founder and CEO after all), but my experience of IT Project Management in the UK is that it is very much a team sport.
More so since the pandemic and a greater reliance on either hybrid (or entirely remote) working, how can a project succeed if your team, dispersed here there and everywhere, can’t ‘lift up the bonnet’ and see all the working parts of the project?
Yaniv is right in his blog though, in IT Project Management especially, as “projects become increasingly complex—with many moving parts both inside and outside the organisation (vendors, consultants, etc.)” – it’s more important than ever that teams ARE teams, sharing the responsibility to “keep all the pieces working in sync”.
Week in, week out, at Stoneseed we work with IT Project teams who are nailing working as a team, and some who are so close that the addition of a few previously missing pieces makes all the difference, whether that’s Project Management Office support and advice or exactly the right talent to bridge whatever skills gap your team is challenged with.
TEAMWORK WORKS WHEN LEADERS LEAD
I’ve written many times about the value of teamwork over the years, often citing the amazing story of the NASA janitor met by President Kennedy during a visit to the NASA Space Centre in the 1960s. The story goes, when Kennedy happened across this man who was carrying a broom the president asked, “What are you doing?” The janitor responded, “I’m helping put a man on the moon”. Every employee was entirely mission focused and bought into the ultimate goal.
Although I’ve always thought of this as a great example of teamwork, I now see it more as a fantastic illustration of inspiring leadership.
While it’s great that this janitor could see how his mopping of floors contributed to Neil Armstrong’s “one small step”, his emotional connection to the outcome is heart-warming and inspiring, it’s great leaders who help a person understand their purpose in an organisation!
At no point could he ever open a Gantt chart and see what Buzz Aldrin was working on that day! The interdependencies between the NASA janitor’s role and that of Apollo 11 Command Module Pilot Michael Collins were limited. The janitor forgetting to put the wet floor sign up in the corridors Collins walked along were probably the only way he could truly have affected the mission’s outcome.
There are those that say this story is an urban myth, but then there are those that doubt the moon landing themselves. I guess the offices would be cleaned out of hours and not during a presidential tour … but I don’t think it matters. Whether this conversation took place or not, janitors DID help put a man on the moon and everyone working on your project has a key role in its delivery.
And, I guess, when Yaniv Shor writes about teamwork in Project Management that’s what he is talking about – a collective responsibility, a hive project mind delivered via an ownership of the outcome!
IT Project Management roles are more symbiotic than a NASA janitor and astronaut, our interdependencies are already more clearly defined, and I’d argue that this creates an even greater need for leadership that fosters absolute engagement. Individual team members need to not just know, but feel how their current work fits into the wider project.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT OFFICE
An effective Project Management Office function can be at the heart of this – if you don’t have one – get one!
I heard the value of effective PMO expressed as like the difference between an old-style road atlas and the map on your smart phone. Both map out the territory but, whereas the atlas is fixed, with just a finger and your thumb you can zoom in on your phone to view the specific shops on a street and zoom out the see how they fit into the wider neighbourhood, district, country and even the planet.
Great leadership, effective PMO, and, yes, decent project management software allows this zoom-in and zoom-out functionality for IT Projects. In his Forbes blog, Yaniv is making the case that for better outcomes and less stressed-out leaders, everyone on the team should be part of this. He’s right.
Each team member should be able to zoom out to hover high above the project like a helicopter surveying the whole area and then easily zoom in for a street-view-style look at project workstreams and dependencies, view how a team is progressing towards its goals and milestones and update tasks and activities. Then zoom in yet again for a detailed check on tasks and activities, who’s doing what – and how well they’re doing versus collective goals and targets.
STONESEED’S PMO SERVICES
Via our innovative Project Management as a Service model, Stoneseed offers a range of Project Management Office Services, including PMO resources, Virtual PMO (VPMO), remote access to PMO expertise and support or PMO Assessments & Consultancy.
Whether you need end-to-end PMO, support maximising your existing PMO, or a range of solutions in between, Stoneseed’s Portfolio, Programme and Project Management Office, with P3O qualified staff, will provide access to specialised PMO expertise, so you can align resources or expertise as and when you need it.
TEAMS – REIMAGINED
In my experience, in the UK, very effective IT Project Management teams are reimagining what “team” means. For many years, IT Project delivery would be handled by your inhouse crew and, when needed, some kind of hired in talent who would come and go.
At Stoneseed, as a provider of ‘aaS’ resources and talent, it has always been our aim to provide more than a “bod to do a job”. Hired in human resources should fit the team like a jigsaw piece, they should embrace and fit the culture, not stand out from it. I’ve compared it to a football team taking a player on loan for the season, to get the greatest value the manager would want the loan player to fit their system, play their way.
That said, if you are taking a player with huge experience on loan, you’d maybe want them to share their wisdom, perhaps mentor more junior players. The beauty of Stoneseed’s project talent working across varied sectors and industries is that they can share best practice and enhance the skillsets of your in-house talent.
Stoneseed’s philosophy has always been to approach resourcing from a “client first” perspective, by getting to know how you work and how your team does business we can provide talent that is a “best fit” for YOU. It’s very simple, we provide you with a team member rather than just an “agency” style appointment to fill a headcount gap.
I’m grateful to Yaniv Shor, his blog gave me cause to pause and reflect (as a thanks there’s a link to his blog, his book and his company Proggio’s project management tools in the sources)! I think we should feel proud that most UK IT Project Management teams ARE working as a cohesive and collaborative team, and those that could use a little help can easily access that help through channels like Stoneseed’s Project Management as a Service model.
Sources And Inspiration
How Stoneseed Can Help Your Team https://www.stoneseed.co.uk/project-management-as-a-service
Yaniv’s Book https://amzn.eu/d/1vCojmY
Yaniv’s Company https://www.proggio.com/
That NASA Story https://www.kareneber.com/blog/tothemoon#