Managing Human Dynamics by Nicholas Spanos, Executive Management Consultant
Nicholas Spanos is a senior manager and executive management consultant with more than twenty-five years of experience in the Information Technology industry. His management experience includes management consulting, project management, and IT service management and he specializes in the evaluation and improvement of IT management effectiveness. Mr. Spanos provides a wide variety of consulting services to analyze industry challenges or trends and provides strategic solution recommendations.
A project plan has tasks and assignments and many people view the role of the project manager is to manage tasks. Successful project management is all about managing “human dynamics” to ensure the project plan is executed properly. Failure to manage human dynamics means the project will probably fail. Since most project managers have minimal experience managing human dynamics, most projects are severely challenged (Standish Chaos report).
Key areas that must be managed:
(1) General requirements evolve into detailed requirements because that is how people think. Stakeholders and project staff are evolving their understanding of the project and benefits which results in changes or delayed decisions that must be managed. PMI refers to this as “Progressive Elaboration”. Understanding and managing this evolution is essential.
(2) Technical staff (intelligent people with strong opinions) will clash with each other … especially across technology boundaries. These clashes are frequently the result of “technical bigotry” … the obsession to use their favorite technology as a solution for all requirements. These clashes can be beneficial and lead to a better solution but they must be managed to avoid disrupting the project.
(3) Business people use business terminology and IT staff use technical terminology. Both groups want the other group to make the extra effort to facilitate communications. Business and technical terminology must be clearly documented or avoided. Additionally, communications must not assume prior knowledge from the recipients.
(4) If you give staff too much time to complete an activity, they will wait till the last minute and still not have enough time to do it right. This is human nature.
I could go on but you get the point. Successful project managers understand people and human dynamics and their project plans and management style are designed to anticipate and mitigate the negative impacts.