Project Managers can get a little nuts about process sometimes.
I mean, really. Really crazy. We add, and add, and add. It feels good, I think it’s an addiction actually.
But then we end up with a pile of (insert expletive) that looks like a Jenga game about to fall over.
We have to police ourselves. Here are some symptoms and solutions.
People Don’t Understand The Process
Can you diagram your process on one sheet of paper, in a way that anyone unfamiliar with it can study it for a few minutes and understand it thoroughly?
“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.” – Blaise Pascal
Just as with writing, a concise and focused process that is valuable indicates good design. And that takes some intellectual effort. (Now I’m self-conscious about this article!)
It’s throwing together something and adding on to it that ends up looking like a pile of spaghetti you need a map to navigate.
People Think The Process Is Stupid
If people think your process is stupid, you’ve done something wrong. Either you haven’t explained the value of the process well enough, or you’ve just done a terrible job at process engineering.
You did engineer that process, didn’t you?
“Engineering is the discipline, art, skill and profession of acquiring and applying scientific, mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes that safely realize improvements to the lives of people.” -a nice summary from Wikipedia
People Won’t Follow The Process
You can’t follow a process you don’t understand. Have you ever been in a situation where people are asking each other what they are supposed to do now, and the response is something like “Well I thought we were supposed to do xyz.”
“I don’t think so. I was told abc last week.”
Then another co-worker pops their head over the cube wall like a gopher from a Dilbert cartoon. ”No guys, I did qrs yesterday, and Billy Bob said that was fine.”
Aside from misunderstanding, people will circumvent your process whenever they can. Wouldn’t you?
If there is an opportunity, the process will get side-stepped and a new “underground” process will emerge.
You can avoid this, but with a badly engineered process you’ll be spending a lot of time enforcing it on people. Boooooo!
Drive Out Fear, Create Trust
Edward Deming is an intellectual hero of mine. One of Deming’s 14 points is to drive out fear and create trust in your organization.
Having too much process is a symptom of a lack of trust for the people using it. In my experience this is usually a reflection on the manager, not the staff.
This can spawn from an influential individual who wants to micromanage, and so inserts themselves or others into a process unnecessarily.
Or it can spawn from an overall culture where trusting staff is not the modus operandi.
Where do you want to work? Where you are trusted, or where every other step in a process is there to rubber stamp something you’ve done, just so management can “keep an eye on you?” (“rubber stamp” sounds familiar, eh?)
What’s The Goal?
Every step in a process had better be adding value to the organization in some way. Not just to make someone feel important.
Ask the question for each step, “Why are we doing this? What value does it add? Who is involved and do they absolutely need to be?”
Leave a comment and add your thoughts below!
Jenga Project Management Processes is a post from: pmStudent
I love to help new project managers and working project managers further their careers.
I also offer online project management training for you!
Excellent article! Hit your link to your web site and found it fascinating and full of great stuff. Signed up for your e-mail and will be following your site. Thanks for putting yourself out there.
I love Deming!
Interesting email I got related to this post that was highlighted in the email today
Probably everyone gets it; they are just being loaded up with 2 sometimes 3 fulltime positions for the price of one. VA speak, “slow fill” hiring.
That’s an interesting comment Steve….
I’m not sure what he/she was driving at. These Jenga processes are the antithesis of lean systems thinking; they create more overhead and divert resources away from the value-add activity. It’s all the guessing and second-guessing and rubber-stamping and office gossip about how crappy the process is that’s doing it.
Doing “more with less” is another topic all together.