Die Statistik sagt: 60% der verantwortlichen Executives wissen um die Opportunitätskosten schlechter Projekte, aber nur 20% unterstützen PM-Initiativen in ihren Unternehmen. Paradox, nicht wahr? Aber wir alle, die wir im Projektmanagement arbeiten, wissen, wie schwer es oft ist, bei den Entscheidern einen (angeblich) teuren, dafür aber guten Projektmanager genehmigt zu bekommen. Stattdessen werden dann immer wieder die Projekte deutlich länger und teurer als geplant – ist das nun günstiger?
Jeder in unserem Geschäft hat sich sicher schon viele Gedanken gemacht, wie er den Chefs gutes PM am besten “verkaufen” kann. Ich selbst habe schon bei vielen Initiativen und Kreisen mitgemacht, die sich hierum gemeinschaftlich Gedanken und dann Marketing bei den Executives machen wollten. Meist bleiben diese Initiativen an dem Punkt stecken, wo dann eigene Kontakte beigesteuert werden sollen.
Ich möchte daher mit diesem Blog mal die Basis verbreitern und Meinungsbilder öffentlich, d.h. für alle Mitmacher sammeln, warum es so schwer ist, das Paradoxon aufzulösen, und wie man es vielleicht trotzdem schaffen könnte. Was dann jeder einzelne daraus macht, bleibt ihm selbst überlassen – aber vielleicht wird ja dann auch mal hier berichtet, ob und wie’s geklappt hat… 😉
Selling project management to executives is an extremely complex issue. As with many managerial issues facing organizations today, there is no “silver bullet” answer. Selling requires a careful assessment of the organization’s strategic objectives, the project management situation, the executive, and the organizational climate.
While there is no “one right answer,” we make the following observations:
· Project managers need to be conversant in the language of business.
· Those that educate executives on realistic expectations for project management in their organizations are more successful in selling PM to executives. Executives need to understand the importance of PM to their business objectives.
· Use of crisis/emotional terms in justifying expenditures on project management are viewed as unsuccessful in gaining executive attention and likely cause a vicious circle of crisis-triggered involvement.
· Personal characteristics and credibility seem to be more important in the process than anything else.
· Successful efforts seem to require broad-based organizational support and coalitions of supporters.
How to motivate execs who hire/choose PMs?
In some cases, the problem is going to be organisational – it may be that the consequences of the way PMs are chosen don’t come back (even indirectly) to the person who did the choosing, while the person/people who suffer don’t have the authority/voice to see that things are done differently next time. If that’s the case, you’ll need a very different plan of campaign. I’m not hot on OD, but that’s where I think you’d need to look for your solution.
In some cases, execs are a bit too far down the “psychotic” end of the “psychotic/neurotic” spectrum. Not that they’re bonkers, but just less inclined than most of us to see things as their responsiblity (rather than someone else’s) when they really are. I’m not very sure how to deal with that one either, other than wait for them to crash and burn, which they will eventually do, and/or work to de-couple your fate from theirs as much as possible in the meantime.
If the organisation is set up more or less right and the exec is more or less balanced as to perception of responsibilities wrt self and others, then they’re probably just using a conceptual map which has important information missing from it. My strategy would be to get them to complete/enrich their map.
Chances are that they think that projects which are going to work at all can be successfully “managed” in a technocratic or mechanistic way, and projects which are failing/have failed do/did so because they were doomed from the outset, rather than because they were inadequately managed. There is in reality a middle ground, but their map doesn’t (yet) recognise that it exists. The middle ground is the (rather large) set of projects which can go wrong if managed badly and go right if managed well. Here, the exec can make a difference that’s worth the investment, once they recognise it.
Anything that you can do to find and highlight examples of projects that were going wrong and were saved, and the attributes of the project managers (good and bad) involved will help, especially if the info about them is brought up out of context – i.e. not as a recognisable part of a “here it comes again” sales pitch for better PM selection. Probably best to use examples from outside the organisation, so as to bypass any tendency to defend past actions.
My own experience as a PM contains several examples of projects where I was the second PM on the job, the first one having “retired hurt” after 9-12 months of getting to well-documented nowhere. I have been known to tell stories of those examples. Sometimes I’ve told them in the first person (which is historically accurate). Sometimes I’ve told them as though they happened to a “friend” of mine. I’m more likely to do the latter if I’m looking to do some covert influencing of how the audience thinks about PMing – more likely to do the former if I’m looking to get hired (which I’m not, any more).
[I have a friend who’s looking, though 😉 ]
What ever you do, I would strongly recommend avoiding anything that feels like a FUD sell. Execs are bombarded by stuff from sales people at all levels in all product/service categories trying to convince them that if they don’t buy their latest proposition, then their eyebrows will turn green, melt and drip down their cheeks. The standard response is, quite rightly, to switch off and look for something more constructive to focus on.
Thanks for your feedback and tips. I anticipate there is still a long missionary way to go…
There is another question open concerning convincing executives with distressed projects not to wait for self-healing with the sames means that led into the crisis but ask for professional advice from extern. Any thoughts on that?
@Henning: i have an idea on your “how” question. Few steps: first find the an executive who feels responsible, they’re not many. (2) Make sure all agreed the project it’s in distress, it’s not granted. (3) convince the PM able to fix it to do it, that’s not simple. (4) repeat this steps with passion and energy ! That’s not easy, though possible for the few who dares! And very rewarding! Happy to elaborate if you pass by Basel or Zug.
Pingback: [BLOCKED BY STBV] Henning Zeumer Projektmanagement | Warum Manager ihr Verständnis von Projekten prüfen sollten, um bessere Projekte zu bekommen
Pingback: [BLOCKED BY STBV] Henning Zeumer Projektmanagement | Why Managers should revisit their Understanding of Projects to receive better Projects