Methods Only Work if Everyone is Trained


The soldiers on your project team are confident, skilled in all aspects of combat, and can recite the plan verbatim, but they never learned the organization’s structured project approach — prepare for friendly fire casualties.

Methodologies and frameworks are part of a general acknowledgment that standards and procedures are essential to the behavior and effectiveness of a team. In a prototypical war film, the “good guys” go into breathtakingly hostile environments and always return triumphantly with little to no fatalities. It makes for entertaining fiction. If only the project managers within an organization are trained in its structured project approach, that organization is operating within a similar realm of fiction.

A fundamental condition for project success is a team working seamlessly as a cohesive unit. Training enables that desired end-state. Keep in mind; it is not training concerning enhancing the expertise of an individual member in their discipline. It is about the team attaining a sufficient aptitude in the organization's project methodology or framework, which crudely speaking (perhaps recklessly so) keeps them all on the same page. Thus better fortifying their project against the classic crescendo of errors that precedes the shit hitting the fan. In order to stay in the clear organizations must be less perfunctory towards training their teams for project work. A considerable leap forward in thoroughness would be to establish mandatory training well beyond the role of project manager.

Dreadful consequences loom when project managers are expected to lead groups that are not proficient in the structured project approach, within a surrounding organization that is equally as ignorant of it (a grave error worthy of its own rant). Defeat or surrender is highly likely. The root cause of either grim ending is a team that communicates poorly, is highly unorganized, and cripplingly inefficient at problem-solving and decision making — just to name a few. A structured project approach helps delineate when, where, and how each team member is to engage with each other. Furthermore, it outlines the parameters for what actions team members may take on their own authority, and what directives must come from above.

And it should go without saying that training must be done prior to the start of the project. Anyone expecting a team to embark on a project under heavy fire whilst pausing from time to time to learn portions of a methodology or framework likely sees no issue with a crew of men operating a tank on the front lines of war whilst reading the manual. It’s absurd. It shouldn’t be done.

No military strategists were consulted for this rant. But, I will confidently declare that before taking on a risk-laden endeavor the army will ensure that its soldiers are adequately instructed on their rules of engagement. Harmony is vital to any team. Skilled resources operating in unison is the most powerful agent of change. And it is the best chance a project has in order to succeed — especially the ones parachuting into a cold wasteland of fiendish politics and complicit silence.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              - Photo based on the game Call of Duty