Re-Imagine Project Management

The other day I was having a v-con (voice conversation) with Dennis McDonald, a well-known advocate of using social media tools to support project management activities. We were having a great conversation when we had the idea that we should take it online. So here is the initial post of what we hope will be an ongoing and dynamic o-con (online conversation) about Social Project Management.

My key points for today:

  • Most of the value of a project plan comes from creating the plan, not having the plan.
  • Project Management is fundamentally about communication.

I think General Patton said something like, make the plan and then throw it away. (I am sure that is nowhere near the actual quote, but it serves my purposes). The point is that the process of design or creation is the point where knowledge is formed. The artifact of the creation process, the plan, has little relative value, as compared to the knowledge that was created. The lesson here is to be inclusive of everyone that will be a stakeholder of the project when you are developing the plan. Those that just see the plan document after the fact will be way behind the curve.

Use social media to engage stakeholders while a project is in the formative stages.

Once a project is underway, the most important role of project management is to keep everyone coordinated, i.e. to facilitate communication. If you think about all of the gantt charts, and cost estimates, and dashboards used on a project, they all serve one purpose; to effectively communicate what is going on. If these tools do not accomplish this function they are useless. Social media again can play a key role, because at its heart social media is about communication.

In many instances, the effective use of social media as a PM tool can reduce or eliminate the need for many traditional tools.

So Dennis, what say you?

Reimagine Now

I just saw this post over on the Now is Gone blog by Lauren Vargas. This is exactly the type of approach I am trying to express with Reimagine the Organization. I fully agree with Lauren that there is a huge opportunity for synergy between existing HR systems and social media.

Re-Imagine HR

I did a blog search on “issues in HR” the other day and the results were much as I suspected. The big issue that came up time and again was finding key talent. My own experience indicates that recruiters are, in fact, leading the way for adoption of social media in the HR world.

But let’s look at this a little deeper…

Let’s say an organization does a great job of finding the best talent by virtue of their excellent use of social networking. Now they have all of these hot new hires, what next? Once inside the organization, your “leaders of the future” are typically faced with a very traditional, hierarchical organization. If this “hot new talent” is buried under bureaucracy and fighting turf wars, is the organization really making the best use of their abilities.

Come to think of it, maybe we had the right talent on board all along, it was just inaccessible due to the prevailing culture. So let’s take a look at that culture (that is so prevalent in most organizations today).

In almost every organization I am familiar with the things that are rewarded include:

  • Performance (beating your peers)
  • Expertise (hording information)
  • Managing (telling others what to do)

Very seldom do I see sharing, collaboration, or stewardship at the top of the list of how organizations actually behave. I wonder why…? …can you say “compensation and reward systems”?!?

My point here is that organizations are not going to get better and smarter simply by hiring new islands of knowledge. Organizations need to learn how to build better boats for traveling between islands, and this starts with getting people to want to build boats. By re-imagining how we recognize excellence, we can begin to see sharing, collaboration and stewardship as the driving traits of an organization.

If, and when, this happens, employees will be begging for the tools that facilitate those processes. The technology to do so will simply be an implementation tactic.

Organizations may come to find that they had the key talent in place all along…duh!

New Series

I have had a little writer’s block lately on this blog. Couldn’t decide how to move forward. I think I have finally have found my way.

Introducing:

Re-Imagine: The Series

A lot of my conversations lately have been around the concepts I recently posted in this blog and on Slideshare, specifically that Social Media is going to change the landscape of all functional areas of the organization, not just Marketing. In these conversations I keep coming back to a central theme. The changes we are about to see are fundamentally NOT about technology (as most references to Enterprise 2.0 seem to be) but ARE about structure, process and behavior (SP&B). Ultimately implementation tactics may present as technology solutions, but I believe that in almost all instances the real solutions will be manifest in new SP&B.

With this thought in mind, I plan on starting a series of posts that look at the issues faced by different functional areas within the organization and discuss how these issues can be addressed with a Social Media approach, focusing on Structure, Process &Behavior.

My first post in the series will look at Human Resources… stay tuned.