If it was only this easy

Listened to Martin VanDerSchouw, author of  Flavor of the Month, last night at PMI Atlanta meeting. Four key topics were discussed – strategy, performance metrics, process and service above status.

With strategy, VanDerSchouw harped on avoiding shiny objects (presuming that also relates to the book title.) Strategy is understanding everything you do defines where you’re going.  Every project furthers the strategy and everyone, including those lowest in the organization, must understand, articulate and support the strategy.  For performance measures, VanDerSchouw argued that changing the measure changes the behavior, in his words “tell me how you are going to measure me and I’ll tell you how I will perform.” Manage starts, not finishes, resonated with the PMI crowd. “Manage start dates and level of effort and don’t burn your margin of safety.” His last point is that we’re conditioned for mediocrity. With processes, process accounts for 85% of all errors. [no source cited]  PMs become keepers of lists and lists lead to missed items and minimization (think George Miller, The Magical Number Seven.) There’s no perfect methodology and this statistical gem, 30% of all initiatives fail is there is only one methodology. [again, no source] Since he prefaced his talk with Lean, Six Sigma, Agile, XP as approaches, presume these are the referenced methodology. Finally, by service over status, he encouraged practicing servant leadership.

VanDerSchouw is spot on with strategy and impressing that into the organization. My big issue with the talk is that he grossly oversimplifies people change. If all we had to do was change the how one is measured, wouldn’t schools, government and corporations working better too? Would all projects be successful? Change is hard and requires leadership and commitment to nurture and sustain change. As a change model, I like John Kotter’s Leading Change.

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