Why you can’t be painting by numbers 1

2673612911_823635ed64So you’ve read through the vast collection of process, project, operations “best practice” literature out there, from the deceptively lucid “Getting Real” via the various incarnations of the Agile/Lean movement – so pregnant with promise, to the more demanding and grown up PMI, IPMA and PRINCE2 frameworks. Good for you! You’ve done your homework. I expected nothing else.

Now then. Any suggested approach, be it Agile, PMI, PRINCE2 or what have you, might just suit some of the projects some of the time, but most certainly not all of the projects all of the time. There’s just no way that you can pick up a Best Practice template and go about your business painting by numbers-style. It’s just not sustainable.

In a not so distant future where teams are evermore cross-functional and cross-disciplined, where they come from different backgrounds and cultures, where open innovation and crowd-sourced and crowd-funded solutions are the norm, you really need to play the game like a pro.

Someone once said that expert chefs can freestyle, but normal people need recipes. Now, if this is true, you had better become an expert pretty fast, because freestyling will most likely become (hell’s bells, it already is) a required skill for any manager. I think I’ll stick my chin out here and say that if it isn’t a required skill in your organization, your organization is quite possibly doing something wrong, or won’t be around long enough to see the not so distant future become a reality.

All those collections of Best Practice represent an extremely valuable source of information on how things can be done. I think you need to approach these tomes the same way the New Age people approach the tomes of the traditional religions. They go shopping in a huge warehouse of religious ideas, buying that which works for them, discarding the rest. If this is a good MO in quest for salvation is not for me to say, but if you’re on a quest towards becoming a good manager, I believe this is a path for you.

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