Project Management Keynote

Management quid bits… These are what are learned from an experience.

  • Project Management’s number one principle is: “Crisis is here.”
    • From stage of planning to execution, from stage of execution to monitoring and control; one thing that has to be kept in mind is that crisis is already here. Every risk that can materialize will materialize; so, in all aspects due-diligence is necessary.
  • You can’t manage what you don’t know.
    • So as much as we value management’s core skill set (planning, organizing, monitoring, and controlling), know-how (technical, business domain) and people management (soft-skills, leadership) are equally important for project managers.
  • You can’t manage what you can’t measure.
    • You measure so that you know how far you are from the target.
    • Sometimes you can’t measure things directly. So, you have to use the proxies (indicators that hint you of the underlying phenomena that you actually want to measure).
    • Hardest resource to manage and keep the measurement tracks of is human. (Though one should realize that people are people, not just another “resource” referred as human).
  • You follow standards because you don’t want countless and unorganized ad hoc solutions.
    • Standard beats ad-hoc, optimization beats the standard.
    • Standards are there as a result of best practices agreed per popular opinion (often of experts). What’s popular is not necessarily always the best. Usually at best it’s something which was optimized and is now generalized, but since everyone that means business starts following it, it’s soon becomes mediocre.
    • Standards are industry’s best practice but there’re always a way for optimization, to modify or create a best practice that’s suitable for the context of your organization, your business and work culture.
    • Since there’s always a room for improvement, it’s very necessary to induct this practice in Project Management’s all knowledge areas.
  • For managers and engineers, and for any profession on earth, the competitive advantage always lies in competence.
    • Technical skill-set alone is never sufficient. Your experience matters. Your vision matters.
    • Experience comes from execution and mistakes. Much you do better you are. Avoid mistakes by self-improvement and feedback.
    • Factors that differ one’s competence from other is: novelty, depth, creativity and expression. Taking up challenging tasks and executing it while keeping an eye on opportunities for improvements.

Source: Written for and used in management class/ workshop that I’m conducting at Mohammad Ali Jinnah University, Karachi.