This series of blog posts are commentary on IS 445 course material that emanate from my own work experience. In contrast to most of my classmates, I have decades of real-world work experience from which to connect the guidance and cautionary lessons that IS 445 presents us with regards to project management. My intent is to inject anecdotal experiences into a discussion of why project management processes are crucial to the success of a project by recounting my own experiences working as a project team member on project collapses and failures. In the interest of fairness and balance, I will also mention a project success or two. Understand that my intent is not to simply describe horrible experiences for the sake of enthralling fascination. This narrative of my project management related work experiences serves to emphasize the topical importance of key practices developed by the project management profession, by the IS 445 course taught by Lisa Schober at UNR, and our text, “Project Management: Principles and Practice” authored by Kathy Schwalbe.
For the professional project management field, the Project Management Institute (PMI) defines five process groups: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. In their publication “Project Management Body of Knowledge,” PMI describes the nature of these process groups. In this blog post and in subsequent posts, I will focus my narrative on each process group in turn. Even with this narrower focus, the subject is still quite broad, as you recall there are 10 knowledge areas and 47 processes too, so I plan to further narrow my discussion to observable triggers or what I also refer to as observable negatives. Observable triggers are easy to point out because observation is simple, and they do not require extensive explanation.
Additionally, I will be making references to systematic biases which are observable characteristics of human nature. In the body of research for project management, some of these systematic biases are labeled conservatism, escalation of commitment to a failing course of action, groupthink, illusion of control, overconfidence, and selective perception. These biases are described in the article “Systematic Biases and Culture in Project Failures” authored by Barry Shore. This list is only a subset of biases mentioned in Shore’s work. I selected these because they are somewhat self-describing and constitute a tidy set of items from which to expand upon within the practical limits of this blog.
I am also going to rely heavily on one recent project experience for this blog. Primarily because this project alone provides examples of most of the contravening project management activities I want to bring to light. Note that not all examples come from this one project, however. Another aspect of this project that draws out particular interest for me is the irony in that the company, which I fictitiously call Milconn, engaged me to work on a project that consisted mostly of individuals who carried the job title of project manager.