This series covers highlights the seven habits that are highly ingrained in project leaders who are capable of consistently delivering project success. Our last post discussed the importance of being a stark realist.
Habit #7: Scope Changes Are Second Nature
As the old saying goes: How does a project fall a year behind schedule? One day at a time! If you ran a post-mortem for all of the projects that have failed in your organization, the most common cause of death would likely be scope creep.
It is human nature to seek pleasure and avoid pain, but the ideal project manager is a little twisted in this regard. They seek pain as early as they can find it (as in the risk management example, they seek out pain that isn’t even actualized) so that they can change the plan immediately and always be aiming for the right moving target.
The natural outcome of this is that project managers do not let schedule and budget changes be optional.
Nurture: From a macro standpoint, we can have standards and procedures, we can have the discipline to follow the procedures, but at a certain point, you need to have the courage to put your foot down and stand up to play all the different pieces up, down, and sideways. If I’m the captain and I’m going down with the ship and the ship is the project, do you know what your recourses are? If you ask dad and he says “no,” can you ask mom? Is there a court of appeals? Are you prepared to fight city hall? In other words, you need to know the procedures well enough to follow them and you need to know them well enough to exploit them when failure is not an option.
These are the habits that are innate to true project leaders, and what separates them from merely qualified managers. The qualities above are not easy to find in a resume or even in a basic interview process.