Tools: Good engineering = education & project management

Do detailed engineered requirements = satisfied stakeholders? 

No, not always :( 

Our culture tends to be “too busy” and generally people want to stick with what they know, avoid change and be open to new learnings only if their capacity allows for it and it involves a day off at some off-site location. 

People generally want education in a perfect world, but there is never a perfect time when all is calm, you are caught up and stress-free from changes.

Real world is that education must be integrated into the project and generally at the project/work site.

Stakeholders can be illogical based on their lack of understanding and the justifications they create. Thus best laid plans will not be applicable and this is part of project risk - especially when working with advanced technologies or innovations.

You may have a proven, best practice, optimized approach and technology, however, without buy-in, understanding and proper tracking of education provided, you will not have success.

This is why a good project management plan includes formal tasks that focus on buy-in through education.  

These tasks are identified early on based on risks and inserted into the project management plan.  Based on life cycle stages of a project, it must be reminded that education comes in a multitude of forms.

Examples tools to be inserted into the PM plan include:
1) Concept Stage - education includes: coffee, lunch, phone calls, emails, electronic presentations (generally in a slide based/ppt type of software), signage, bulletin boards, announcements, feedback tools, forums, social events (promote trust & engagement), checklists, questionnaires, minutes

2) Planning Stage – education includes: reports, presentations with multiple types of software (spreadsheets, graphs, mind-maps, diagrams, videos, etc), referenced independent documents, webinars, video conference calls, meetings with white board (open) themed agendas, workshops, conferences, trade shows, tours, alliance formation of alliances (with other businesses, academics, governments, associations), timeline/milestone charts, signature tracking (sign-offs to promote focus, priority, attendance and
 attention), minutes

3) Executing – education includes: formal class room training, online training, mentorship, coaching, customized professional development program (aligned with operations), revisiting of education that was provided in Planning stage (when possible, reuse and repeat based on complexity/uniqueness of the project and level of capability/capacity of the stakeholders), education packages (customized/structured levels of information, high level, medium level, details and ability to drill down or scale up rapidly), certifications, minutes

4) Closing – lessons learned (customized to the type of project and the plans of how the project learnings become integrated into future projects/operations), minutes

Couple good links on stakeholder buy-in (and the focus on communication) include:

Tools: Project Teams Need 3 Things

3 things that greatly impact how well your team performs include:
1. Belonging
2. Significance
3. Boundaries

Then have a formal plan (include within the project plan and manage it like a deliverable) to help integrate those three things to form the basis of your Project Culture. Finally, overlay that culture to continuously be Goal Oriented.

1. Belonging 
Can be described as knowing where they fit within the team and also organization.  Both are critical and will overlap, so one easy way to understand if there is an issue is to ask the question out-right…. “how are you feeling in terms of comfort and security with your overall position within the project and the company”.  If this is not positive, you also need to have a strategy to address it as best you can (since likely you will not have the time or the resources available – so be creative and let them know you will do your best)

Other aspects of belonging include understanding how each team member is connected to others, every person wants to fit in and have positive interactions and attention and this leads to trust, which leads to strong communication/interaction and thus productivity & performance.

2. Significance 
Can be described as the ability to have each stakeholder understand how their capabilities are aligned with the project demands.  How can the project leadership team enable all team members to make a difference in the project through meaningful contributions – providing a sense of personal power.  All humans are hard-wired with a need for personal power and growth of their internal confidence that leads to independence and essentially self-acutalization.  No person wants to be micro-managed and far too often a manager falls into the trap of:
- Tell a person what to do
- Tell then show a person how to do it
- Monitor the person while they are doing it and constantly get involved
- Approve/Reject/Criticize then take over near the end

3. Boundaries 
Every project has a plan. Although we want each team member to have self-independence and empowerment, they must be working together and following the same path.  We must allow small mistakes to occur and learn from and things will never be perfect and must have paths and culture for optimization. Too often companies establish high levels rules, policies and excessive administration – which turns employees into robots. Creativity and innovation are depleted, self pride and accountability become minimized and true value from the employee is lost. It is a fine balance as to when do you micro-manage and when do you provide freedom to achieve work that you can see was your own and take ownership, pride and self-learnings from. 

Tools to enable the 3 parameters include:

Belonging – org chart (diagrams for multiple levels), roles and responsibilities (customized for each project), RAM (Responsibility and Assignment Matrix), Communication Plan (swim lanes as to who to go to for what and when), team building events

Significance  Transparency on Role Accountability and the assigned person’s Capability (this is key and can leverage concepts fro Requisite Organizational Design or Elliott Jaques methodologies), check point reviews (what has been completed – celebrate milestones), recognition culture (do not need to have tangible awards/gifts we all have a job to do and positive recognition culture can be instilled into a team without a physical cost to the project), alignment of project achievements with personal learning or growth plans

Boundaries – Sponsor’s Vision charter, guidelines, codes of conduct, plans, objectives, Constraints (money, time, scope, quality, HR), plans, scope statements, requisite organizational design models, work capability models, trust, measurement and monitoring systems, stop or red/yellow/green or go/no-go systems, informal reporting systems (simple/fast social media style updates), trust

Goal Oriented
All of this then must be combined under a project culture that is Goal Oriented, tools that can help with that include:  org design clarity (charts/structure), communication and accountability swim lanes, milestone visuals, bar charts (gannt charts), graphs, spreadsheets, KPIs, CSFs, objectives, deliverables (ideally you can have both tangible, concrete goals but do not forget to include the intangible, subjective goals) and also the excerpts from specific documents such as:  Concept, Proposal, Charter, Scope Statement, Project Plan, etc.