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Three Topics to Consider
1. The Monthly Project Report: Each month, all project managers were called for an executive session to present the status of their projects. All project managers and the key project team members spent five to seven days a month preparing standardized briefing charts for this critically important meeting. The meeting lasted well over half a day while each project manager waited for his or her turn to receive executive guidance.
Result: The project managers, team members, and administrative assistants wasted hundreds of hours each month preparing detailed slides, graphics, analyses, and report papers to provide to the senior executive. The senior executive was gratified at the level of work and detail his people put in to keep him apprised of every project nuance. The senior executive had a much larger comfort zone of information to rely upon when queried by his boss.
Analysis: When most organizations work Monday to Friday, there are about twenty workdays in any month. Spending over 25 percent of the available monthly work time in preparing reports drove project management costs up and undermined organizational commitment to disciplined project management. Worse, tremendous amounts of overtime were required to offset the lost project productivity. This forced the project managers, team members, administrative assistants, and contractors to work late nights and weekends. Productivity losses were staggering. The senior executive was promoted, but the organization was ultimately branded a failure and subsumed under another executive. Several project managers no longer work for the company.
- Evaluate the executive sessions. Should they be held on the basis of project performance norms and the key project milestone dates and not per a fixed schedule? Why? Would this require changes in organizational culture? Explain.
- How might a culture of openness be established that encourages briefings to senior executives regarding deviations from expected performance (both good and bad)? Offer a few ideas.
- Explain some of the less time-consuming and systematic ways through which an executive manager can update himself or herself on the status of a project.
2. Review the PMI’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct on the PMI website and answer the following questions:
- In your opinion, what are the underlying international and global values of PMI’s Code of Ethics?
- What do you think is the difference between aspirational and mandatory standards identified in the PMI Code of Ethics? Justify your answer.
3. Leading the Main Street Project: Scenario: A small town in Texas wanted to enhance its main street to reduce traffic safety problems, enhance business, increase the number of businesses, and make the street more appealing. The main street was also a four-lane state highway that was restricted to 45 mph speed in the less populated area and 35 mph speed in the business distinct. The project was approved by the town council, and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) provided funding to create enhancements that included relocating overhead wires and installing curbs and gutters while filling in drainage ditches. The project was to last for two years.
Result: Poor project communications management resulted in business owners not being aware of all the aspects of the plan. Fears arose that businesses would fail during construction. Project leaders attempted to assuage these fears, but a town council meeting was called to vote down the project. The council members voted unanimously to cancel the project on the basis of emotional arguments by business owners and a few vocal townspeople. The TxDOT representative thanked the council for its interest but announced that the project would continue. Naturally, there was an outrage about this announcement and vocal opposition followed. The TxDOT project manager informed the assembled group that the city did not have jurisdiction over the road and that the TxDOT had allocated funding on the city’s request. The project would continue regardless of unfounded fears.
- Create a plan that could have avoided this situation. How does your plan compare to others?
- Evaluate the legitimacy of the TxDOT proejct manager’s use of position power.
- Assess what communication skills you would use in this situation.