The Complete Project Manager: fact in text tiles

Below you’ll find a selection of some text tiles from the book The Complete Project Manager. Join the Project Management Masterclass to get a full explanation of the tiles and learn how you can put the theory into practice on a daily basis.

Have you discovered that setting a deadline actually ensures the task is never done on time?

Setting a deadline makes people focus on this deadline, rather than trying to deliver results sooner. A focus on commitment can therefore also be counterproductive: the more pressure, the bigger the safety margin people will set. This reduces their sense of urgency and causes them to postpone the task at hand. Meeting deadlines requires a subtler approach than simply dictating when something has to be finished!

What do you think is the power of scrum? The prescribed process or the manner in which participants are inspired to change their behaviour?

Perhaps it is mostly about facilitating common sense and behaviour: a product backlog with a clear and prioritised scope, a daily team meeting to coordinate tasks together, fixed blocks of time with a permanent team, changes that are welcome but not during the current sprint, feedback after each delivery… Dare to invest in behaviour, with and without scrum!

Do you know exactly what to focus on during the execution of your project?

Critical parameters are those characteristics that you have to focus on daily because they show you how far away your final goal is. Think of e.g. an essential product characteristic, the number of website visitors, the speed of the manufacturing process or the cost price of your product. These parameters differ from “lagging” indicators like time and money because they tell you how you are doing at an early stage, allowing you to take appropriate measures if necessary.

Dogmatically separating content from management is like riding a bike with safety wheels on: it feels easier at first, but ultimately leads to a confusing project that is more difficult to steer and control.

Effective project management in a complex environment requires close collaboration between all disciplines from the earliest beginnings until the finish line. Create a mix of expertise and creativity at both substantive and management levels.

While on the road, have you ever noticed how fast you have to drive to make up for “lost” time?

If you travel a distance of 240 km at a speed of 120 km/h and take a fifteen-minute break after fifteen minutes, you would have to drive at a constant 140 km/h to reach your destination on time. The same principle applies to projects: making up for lost time takes a ton of energy, so you should avoid wasting too much time without realising it at the start of a project!

Do you play with the changes to the project, or do the changes play with you?

Instead of clinging to your predefined plan, you should learn from your tomtom and look ahead towards the final goal with genuine curiosity at every turn, and then choose – and communicate – the optimal path to get there. This lets you incorporate changes automatically without them (cumulatively) becoming a major issue down the road.

Are you ever frustrated about the fact that your client has already set a deadline and a budget before you have even submitted your proposal?

A proactive project manager has a plan right away and directs expectations – the details can be sorted out later!

Can you combine the strengths of different methods?

Agile project management and Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints (TOC) share more similarities than you might think. The final scrum sprints with non-critical functionality are like Goldratt’s project buffers and the daily stand-up meeting prevents safety margins in commitments.

How do you make sure you work on your relationships with all stakeholders involved in your project before the stakes get high?

The line between reactive behaviour and influencing behaviour is sometimes amazingly thin.

Roel Wessels
Sr. Director Projectmanagement & Technology

Click here for more information on the book ‘The Complete Project Manager

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