The critical elements of successful project execution are People, Process, Technology, and Governance. Success is consistently delivered when all of these dimensions are well defined, fully implemented, well-managed, and fully adopted. They must be both adopted individually and integrated together to enable each other for success.
This post covers the first and foremost of these dimensions:
In our related post on project execution challenges, we covered four permutations of challenges an organization can have with regards to its people. These are: a shortage of practitioners, a missing competency among the practitioners, a shortage of leaders, and a lack of leadership skill.
The solution to a shortage of practitioners and leaders is the same: project staffing. Whether that means finding help within the organization, hiring new people through your own Human Resources department, or outsourcing the process altogether, the below graphic provides the process for how this is delivered:
If there is a lack of skills among the practitioners, then the solution is training, coaching, and mentoring in the specific competency that needs development. If there is a lack of skill among leadership, then the solution can be more complex because the necessary skills of leaders do not always easily coexist within an organizations politics. As the old fable has it, being a good project manager often means pointing out that the Emperor has no clothes, which a savvy person who is conscientious of their job security might not be willing to do if it means getting the guillotine.
Organizations, then, often focus on the functional skills necessary to be qualified as a project manager, but what separates qualified project managers from bona fide project leaders are the soft skills that are difficult to spot. The below graphic shows the difference between the skills that often get managers hired, and the necessary traits for that manager to have a meaningful impact on the organization:
The dimension of “People” goes beyond the literal humans running the ship. It refers to the entire structure that allows them to be effective. So organizational structure, organizational incentives, organizational framework, job descriptions, et al falls under People.