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The Six Disciplines Blog

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Poor Project Management is Actually Your Silent Killer

Despite popular perceptions, project management is not just for large enterprises or huge undertakings. Projects are every organization’s change agents. Without them nothing improves; you simply maintain the status quo. And this is why projects can be so difficult, your teams are often building something they have never built before. A project is any temporary endeavor you undertake to create a unique product, service, or result. They are anything you do beyond your normal ongoing operational activities. They could be huge multi-year initiatives, like “build new high-efficiency factory” or small like, “update the employee handbook.” Whatever the case, projects deliver someTHING, and when they do, they are DONE.  And you are on to the next thing.

Here are some alarming facts from the Project Management Institute on how everyday organizations do managing projects.

In low-maturity organizations, only…


Why Do So Many Projects Fall Short?

So why do so many organizations’ projects fall short? Here are the most common reasons we encounter.

  • Lack of commitment or support
  • Unrealistic timelines
  • Too many competing priorities
  • Unclear outcomes or expectations
  • Unrealistic resources
  • People pulled away from the project
  • Lack of a big picture for the project team
  • Poor planning
  • Lack of leadership

Most of these issues come from the organization simply not taking the process of project management seriously. It is easy to assume that project management is only needed on your largest projects. But the reality is, organizations do not lose most of their resources on the high-profile projects. Typically they are getting the attention they need. But instead, it is the litany of small, poorly-managed projects across all the teams in your organization that is killing you silently. Every project, no matter how big or how small, should be put through a simple, proven process for managing a project.


Start Taking Project Management Seriously

We believe two factors are most important for your projects to be a success.

  1. The greatest success factor is finding a committed and competent project manager. From start to finish, a project manager is responsible for leading a project and its team.
  2. The second factor of project success is front-loading the project management process. If you start with an unclear set of expectations you are going to experience something called scope creep, where the project just keeps getting bigger and bigger and no-one is quite sure what “DONE” means. To prevent scope creep, front-load your project with the right initiation and planning steps.

So what can you do to change your organization’s ability to get projects done? Train every one of your managers to run every project, small or large, through this simple three-step process. One, initiate the project. Two, plan the project. And then three, lead and actively manage the project.

Over the next month, we are going to cover each of these steps in detail. Want to start helping your managers manage all there projects effectively? Click here to learn more about Six Disciplines’ Workgroup Alignment Kit. Click here to book a demo of our management system.

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Since 2005, the Six Disciplines blog offers posts about performance excellence, strategy execution, business coaching, leadership development, innovation, and business process improvement. This blog has received prestigious awards for leadership and management and has been syndicated by several major media sources.