Project clichs

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I have been thinking about managing projects and programmes by clichs and particularly the ups and downs.

Is it fun, rewarding and satisfying in achieving the ups?

But can it be equally fun, rewarding and satisfying to deal with the downs?

What can we achieve on the upside?

Should we place key participants and stakeholders up there on pedestals to reflect their authorities and responsibilities or perhaps to encourage them to take up their authorities and responsibilities?

Should we construct special elevated platforms onto which we lift our teams so that they may perform better, more effectively, with pride and confidence?

Do managers need to provide a (theatrical) stage on which to deliver and act out each (plan of work) stage with the project team of actors and musicians, front of house and back of house, playing their parts for each scene and act which make up the performance and which is appreciated by the audience?

Do we need to know where the steps are to climb above the crowds (but not into the clouds) at each milestone or gateway to see the context, check the circumstances, verify the complexity and climb down, re-orientate and then press on? Do we need to find the steps each time or carry our own folding ladder to use at any time?

And what of the downside?

What happens when we get into a hole - innocently - and we are told to stop digging? Who are the problem solvers and pragmatists who might be with us? And are they standing tall?

What happens when we fall into the adversarial trap negligently or by not paying attention? Who will help us climb out and carry on or are we on our own?

Will too much downside result in a pit of despair with only the positivity of possible upsides as consolation?

Do we learn most from satisfying ups or challenging downs? Should there be an up/down PM competency?

If your project is an elevator / lift who is pressing the buttons? And finally do clichs really help with the ups and downs of projects and programmes?


Posted by Tom Taylor on 16th Sep 2014

About the Author

Tom Taylor is a vice-president of APM, joint founder of Buro Four, principal at dashdot.

He is a past committee member and Chairman of APM London Branch, a past Chairman of APM and a past President of APM.

Previously a Certificated Project Manager and RPP he is currently a ChPP.

He is an Honorary Member or Fellow of International Project Management Association (IPMA), PMAN (Nepal), PRY (Finland), APOGEP (Portugal), AIEPRO (Spain), KPMA (Kazakhstan) and APM (UK).

He is a reciprient of the Sir Monty Finneston 2009 and the APM President's Medal.

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