eXtreme Project Management Concepts
"I don't care about what anything was designed to do,
I care about what it can do."
Gene Kranz (Ed Harris)1
There are a number of values that underpin eXtreme project management. These values result in project management behaviors that are:
Participative: The management of projects is based on meaningful participation of stakeholders.
Proactive: Project management is a creative and proactive problem-solving process.
Open: Everything about the project is shared openly with all stakeholders.
Outward-oriented: The focus of the project manager is outwards toward the stakeholders.
Trusting: The project team is treated as professionals who are to be trusted.
In addition, eXtreme project management incorporates radical concepts such as these:
Project management is completely different from technical management.
Context is more important than content.
Whole-of-life project management.
The project manager is a facilitator and integrator rather than a manager.
Senior management are executive project managers.
Scenario planning rather than macroplanning.
Participative rapid planning.
Virtual teams rather than traditional teams.
This chapter explores these concepts in more detail and provides the framework for the eXtreme project management tools and techniques.
Project Management Versus Technical Management
The distinction between technical and managerial information in a project is critical in understanding eXtreme project management. To understand a project and manage a project, you must make a distinction between the information dealing with the business aspects of a project and the information that represents the technical issues such as the development technologies and deliverables that are being developed in the project.
A Test for Technical or Project Management Preference
Let's assume that your team comes to you with the following problem. They have been evaluating the Aardvarker database versus the Blahdanger database technology and they can't decide which to adopt. How would you assist them? A technical manager would use his or her technical expertise to arrange various volume benchmarking, referential integrity, efficiency, and other technical evaluations, undertaking some of the more difficult technical tests themselves. A project manager would ask the team what skills and assistance the members need to make the decision and arrange for the team members to get the help they need. In addition, the project manager would evaluate the risks, costs, schedule, and impact on project objectives of each option.
In the broadest sense of the term, all professions deal with technical information. The structure, components, and behavior of the human body form a highly technical set of information studied by doctors. The complexity of legal processes, precedents, and law is another set of technical information required by lawyers. The rules, procedures, and legal issues in business accounting provide another example of technical information understood by accountants. The complex policy, analysis, and assessment issues associated with implementing competency-based assessment are as technical as any information system design. In computing, the techniques of systems modeling, systems design, data design, programming, testing, and integration are examples of technical information. To develop and normalize an entity-relation model, to program in C++, and to design a DB2 database are highly technical skills that are required to develop information systems.
As shown in Figure 3.1, the project management of a project has a different but related focus and is driven by a different set of information that is not technical in the pure sense, but rather represents the business and managerial context of the project. The technical and managerial aspects of a project are integrated through the scope, objectives, strategy, and quality requirements of the client. We call this set of information a business case (see later).
Figure 3.1 Two information sets.
The effective management of a project requires a balance between and integration of the content (technical deliverables, tasks, internal dynamic) and the context (managerial, political, social environment) of the project.
As discussed in Chapter 2, "Project Management Evolution," the emergence of specialist project managers who are not involved in the technical detail of the project is a recent innovation in other areas such as construction and engineering. The project manager's focus must be the context, not content.