So, welcome back everybody, James Clements here. We’re doing a series on Project Management A-Ha moments and I’m running through those critical realizations in my project management career where I go to the point where I had an A-Ha and I said that’s a different way of viewing and my existing beliefs and so forth. And we made a fundamental change in the way I acted and the way I perceived projects and the world generally and how I go about delivering projects.
So, the two that I want to talk about today specifically is: one I titled, don’t believe in your own propaganda – it’s where you convince yourself of a certain situation and that becomes fact in your own mind but it might not be correct. And closely related to this is to question everything. Where people, organizations, supplies, subcontractors – will have a view and you as the project manager needs to question how bias that view is and your own views and make a decision, make the best decision for the project.
So, let’s go through the (soak?) when we talk about believing in your own propaganda and I see this a lot in bids and proposals where Bids and Proposals Team – their job is to put a story together on why you as the tenderer, are the best person to be awarded the work – so it is typical that they will build up this array of mocking material and stories and so forth, but, sometimes they become so elaborate – and they need to become fairly elaborate and detailed, but it come so elaborate that reality and fantasy for lack of a better term become detached. So, it’s very important to make sure that what you’re signaling to your clients is actually fact because in (real I take), we’ll put a proposal together and very regularly the client will come and say ‘show me.’ So then, you need to be able to articulate with fact, without the facts so forth of how you’re actually delivering and if some of those grandiose claims in your proposal that phantom some reality then you can soon going to get found out.
From a general people perception, people always want to believe they’re doing a good job. And that’s fine, but, (……) as we go through self promotion, we try and make ourselves look better but we need to be – all this needs to be rooted in some kind of reality. So, I’ll go through it a bit shortly when we talk about questioning everything but you need to make sure that your story, your marketing and so forth is grounded in reality. And I call this propaganda, it’s probably a filly harsh of a term but it can become a propaganda if the fact detracts from reality.
And where I see this happening a lot is a – and you know I work in some international arena doing tenders and projects and so forth. And I’ve seen this over in the course of last 10-20 years where I’ve worked in industries, particularly in Western organizations. I’ve worked for American firms and Australian and so forth. And what’s happening is a lot of the work that we typically done in the past has transferred into more local scenes like China, or India or South America and some of the Eastern European states. And we hang on to for a very long time the fact that okay well these people can be cheaper than us but our quality is so much better.
Now in the early days, that was very much (occasional) and if I think back to my ship building days in China, the ships coming out of China were very poor quality. But that’s not the case anymore, the ships coming out of China are cheap they’re also fantastic in quality. So, we hang on to that perception for a long time, we’re trying to sell into the international market saying, that’s fine you can buy it for 20% cheaper in China but our quality is so much better and it’s going to last so much longer and so forth.
But that’s not the case and we hang on to that for far too long and what we really needed to be saying to ourselves was – okay, we need to be cheaper as well so yes we can be better quality and probably quality debt is not as large as it used to be but we need to certainly reduce our cost overall, we need to look at outsourcing work to China, outsourcing work to India, other Asian countries and so forth so we could bring our (constant). So, what we have to do is to bridge the divide, will never going to be as cheap but we needed to be a lot cheaper so that quality differentiated. But we did have was reducing over time but still was there was actually tangible enough for clients to hang on to and say: Well so ok, I’m happy to pay a slight price premium because I do know that I’m going to get this additional quality and these are the benefits that we put forward.
So, that’s really in around not believing in your own propaganda. And these kind of things really probate through the whole of your organization. So, you have a group grip going on, where these stories your telling yourself, your telling your clients, they go through all of your organization so we need to just make sure that we do question what we’re putting out into the market place. And we make sure that we take in particular view everything we do.
So, this leads me nicely to the next project management A-Ha moment, is that we should be questioning everything. Question that propaganda that I just talked about. When you’re in a project environment, you got a lot of information overload – you got your senior management telling you they want certain things to occur, you got your supplies and your suppliers where putting up products and services and so forth that they say this is the best products and services and you should be working for us for these reason. You got your project teams saying, oh look we’re going to be late or we’re going to be early for this reasons, this is the budget we need to live with this contract because of these reason. And you really, as the project manager and as a project management team you’ve got to take a very, very, objective view and question – is this actual fact that I’m being presented here.
And you got to have to develop methods to work through that, you got to have your own advisors and so forth. And there really is a definitive answer. And as you develop as a project manager, you are going to develop skills that say, I have my own beliefs, I see what my management, my team, my supplies telling me and I’m going to make a judgment call on these. But really as I said, really there is a definitive answer, you just need to question people’s motivation, question the context within which people are explaining stuff to you and make the best judgment call (as often?). You should always be questioning yourself about why you’re doing certain things, why you’re making decisions and so forth.
So, these two things about believing in propaganda and questioning yourself are very much interrelated, when you understand and it becomes quite a natural thing. It’s easy to believe what you’re being told, and that’s the easy answer. But the more difficult approach and the better approach is to take all these information in, take it with a large dose of skepticism and make your decision base on fact not on what you would like to believe or what people would have you believe.
So, that’s it for this episode of Project Management A-Ha moments, I’ll see you next week.