Saturday, May 18, 2013

Generational differences

Yale student Victoria Buhler recently wrote a term paper that was recently  given some public airing. Some of what Ms Buhler wrote -- as described by columnist David Brooks -- is worthy of note by by project managers who have recruited young grads onto project teams, to wit:

  • This graduating generation is very conservative in its appetite for change. Broadly speaking, they distrust the link between action and result.
  • They require hypotheses to be tested, substantiated, and then results replicated before they commit to any course of action.”
  • There is an obsessive focus on individual improvement: “Time not spent investing in yourself carries an opportunity cost, rendering you at a competitive disadvantage as compared to others who maintained the priority of self.”
  • They wonder if the mathematization [sic] of .... policy performs a gatekeeper function; only the elite can understand the formulas that govern ......
The first one is project management 101: we are supposed to be experienced and capable of linking actions and results. Shame on us if this is an issue with a new grad on a project team. A good way to start is with an Integrated Master Plan (IMP) --
An event-driven plan that documents the significant accomplishments necessary to complete the work and ties each accomplishment to a key program event

This last one is particularly close to home for me. In the risk management classes I instruct for PMI eSeminarsWorld I ask about qualitative vs quantitative risk mangement and decision-making. I always get a big majority going with the qualitative. Students tell me it's just too hard to get everyone on the same page with numbers -- too much energy goes into defending the metrics and estimates.

Of course, we bring this on ourselves too many times, citing uncalibrated 'facts' that are not facts at all. When push-comes-to-shove, we often really can't defend the numbers.

Check out these books I've written in the library at Square Peg Consulting