Linda Holmes, a blogger who writes about pop culture, recently wrote an article that discussed the issue of being inundated with information. She discusses how we are better off determining what to choose to read rather than being irritated by what we can not digest. What I found interesting is her descriptions of two behaviors “culling and surrendering” that we can go through when dealing with various aspects of pop culture.
For example, someone may decide that the genre of horror movies is something that is not worth spending time on and as such they would decide not to watch them. This concept is considered “culling” where the individual decides to completely discount an entire category because they find little value for themselves by paying attention to it or spending time on it. Another concept that she referred to was “surrendering” which is in effect when we recognize that in spite of our interest in a topic we simply don’t have enough time for it. For instance, I may be interested in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserable but upon discovering that the unabridged version contains thousands of pages I might decide to give up the desire to read it.
Interestingly enough I find that people’s reaction to project management sometimes can fit into one of these two categories. Busy executives who learn about project management can sometimes decide that either it offers them no value or they have too little time to focus on it.
These two reactions can do quite a bit of harm to the cause of advancing the project management profession. In my book Sidestep Complexity I discuss the issues of “culling and/or surrender”, although I don’t use the same terms. Some executives in small and medium sized organizations reach a conclusion that they need to ignore project management because they view it as a complex approach that is difficult to implement or worse as a technical activity that has no value to the business professional. I spend a good bit of time in the book demonstrating that this belief is inaccurate and I offer advice on how to adopt project management principles in a simplified yet effective ways.
For the project management community to continue to grow and for the profession to maintain its momentum those of us practicing project management need to fight against “culling” and “surrender” as two of the most significant threats that could undermine the profession.
Working to reset expectations regarding the complexity of implementing project management in my opinion is not nearly as difficult as trying to change the mind of an executive who believe that they have little to gain from project management. The most effective mechanism though in combating both reactions is by ensuring that there is an understanding that project management contributes to the bottom line of the organization. Building a bridge between effective practice and financial results is the first step in gaining the attention of those busy executives but not the only step in doing so.
Project management practitioners need to develop an adoption plan, which includes an executive buy-in component, to ensure that the profession is positioned for success within the organization.