Monday, February 05, 2007

Managing a project

I had the great pleasure of being the guest speaker in a business class on project management. We had some good discussions, especially some great back and forth from one of the school's staff in the IT department who sits in on the class. Before the class I had to sit down and think about what I wanted to pass along to the undergraduates. I had some fun stories, both good and ugly, and have been blessed to work with some great business people. Here is what I came up with on what a good project manager does:

Get the right job done with excellence.

I focused on these three words:

Right = staying focused on the agreed-upon need
Done = it's easy to start projects, hard to finish
Excellence = keep the standards high even when it takes a lot of energy

One of the interesting moments in the class is when the professor asked about keeping the team motivated. I think my response surprised him - I don't worry much about motivation. At the beginning of the project we paint the big picture, discuss why it needs to get done, and work on it. If someone isn't motivated to work even though they have agreed to it and are being paid well for it, we find someone who is and wants to do a great job and contribute. One of the perks to working for a great company was that if someone wasn't motivated to do the job, there were 100 people waiting in line.

If the person had problems with the job, we would try to help with that; for example, we would try to make sure that they had the right resources, training, or whatever else they would need. We would even help through personal issues. But being motivated was a whole 'nother subject.

You may not even like that answer right now. You may be thinking, John, aren't you supposed to be the motivator? Aren't you suppose to do that as a project manager or minister?

I love painting the big picture. I love describing how wonderful this is going to be if you look at the world in this way or participate in this community or be a part of this journey. But if people aren't interested, they aren't interested.

You've probably been on a group or committee in which one member just didn't want to be a part. Really, did it matter how much you cajoled them? Did it matter how much you pestered them about how this would affect everyone's grade or how it would let the team down? Some people just have to get there in their own time.

Which is why I want to work with leaders and people who are already committed, who get the big picture. The real way to affect change is to be the change and invite people along. I still will preach and teach and encourage and I still love to imagine with a group the Kingdom Life, but I'm not into Twisting Arms or Dragging Along; nowadays I want to shine with a group and hope it lights a way when someone really needs it.

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