It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it

Street signsIn project management there are the ‘hard skills’ (planning, risk & issue management, status reporting etc) and the ‘soft skills’ (managing the team, stakeholder engagement, communications – all things people related). There are plenty of templates for the former, but the latter have to be learned the hard way, through experience.

As a member of Nigel Botterill’s Entrepreneur’s Circle I get his monthly publication. This month he talked about the Bananarama syndrome. In the article he described working with one business owner who was achieving a good turnover but low profits.

bananaramaHe talked about all the marketing tools and techniques he promotes and they said they did them all. But when he scratched below the surface, none of them were being used properly. It wasn’t what they were doing, it was the way they were doing it, which is the title of a song from the bands Fun Boy Three and Bananrama. Hence the name of the syndrome!

This made me think about about two of the three biggest project management mistakes I referred to in my webinar late last year – not setting a solid foundation of controls and forgetting about the people aspects of projects.

Many project managers think they have created that solid foundation by implementing standard processes and templates. But if you don’t consider the people side they will simply be added bureaucracy. For the foundation to be effective, it needs to be understood by those that use or interact with it. It needs to be valued and valuable. It needs to add something to the project.

Anyone can write a bland, factual progress report. But if you spend some time considering the audience and what you want from that audience, you have the opportunity to engage. That engagement may be to promote your project, or may be to help remove obstructions to progress, to resolve issues.

The foundation is the what. Consideration of the people involve drives the way. So for good project management, it ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it!

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