Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The achievement test

There's a lot of angst in the PM community about project management and management governance as being 'large' vis a vis  'small', or perhaps better said as: project management as plan-centric  vis a vis  'agile'. Even hierarchical vs relational enters the conversation.

And rightly so.  Means matter. 

One reason they matter is that most of us are not artifacts of 'Taylorism', the business theory of  "people as interchangeable parts" insertable into an [almost mindless] process.  But for most, the governance culture of the project intersects with our personal and political ideas of governance.  That intersection may be harmonious, but sometimes it's not.  Where not: move on; otherwise: let's get to work.

I've quoted Alistair Cockburn before, but it's worth remembering:
Almost any methodology can be made to work on some project
Any methodology can fail on some project

To repeat: means matter. 

But of course, the 'ends' matter most. That's where 'achievement' comes into play.

Achievement should take up more of our energy--more, but not all, to be sure--than that which we put into debates over governance and methodology.

A similar theme was struck in an article I read this past month, from which I borrowed the title for this post.  The idea there, and the idea here, is that what matters most is throughput: results--enabled by an effective governance scheme--that are consequential for the people and enterprises affected.

An achievement test for projects is not high science; here are the five big points:
  • The project produces the objects of greatest value, most importance, and most urgency as judged by the stakeholders
  • The project beneficiaries are better off for having the benefit of the project outputs.
  • The project team earns their just rewards for a job done well according to the performance measurement baseline [PMB]
  • Project outputs beget business outcomes that  increase the value of the enterprise, and
  • The sponsor-investors who underwrite the project receive a reasonable value as a return on their investment

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