The single biggest problem project organizations must fix (…instead of trying to fix all problems at once…)

I started my research almost 10 years ago with the simple question Why can’t we prevent projects run into problems all the time?

How to solve those problems? There are so many problems projects run into. And do you need to solve them all?

Richard Zultner mentioned the name of Justus von Liebig this week. He, Liebig, described the basic principle of Theory of Constraints, over 180 years ago! How plant growth relied on the scarcest nutrient resource, rather than the total amount of resources available.

I’ll use this principle to understand the biggest problem project organizations must fix, in stead of trying to fix every problem.

People in projects.

Working with projects for over 30 years, I’ve witnessed tons of measures for people. New processes, new tools, new skills, new habits. But why projects run into problems has nothing to do with the individuals that do the work. By far most people do a decent job. These problems are too widespread to get hung up on individuals. It seems a pointless burden to change people do their work.

Teams in projects.

Team work and collaboration is the pillar for every project organization. However, most complaints are about poor communication. It is causing lots of conflicts. But this doesn’t imply there is something wrong with the communication skills of people working in projects organizations.

Projects.

It seems a no-brainer that if you want to improve projects, it should start with changing project managers how they plan and manage projects, and giving them new planning tools. But it is pointless. Projects are typically used for big and complex works that has never been done before. It can’t be prevented they run into problems. Yet most projects get completed successfully. This suggests also project managers do a pretty decent job.

Portfolio management / Resource management

I got the opportunity to look behind the scenes in many different project organizations in many different industries. Never I’ve came across a company that excels in clarity and overview of their portfolio’s and everything that comes with it. The status of projects, the availability of people, reliable forecasts, monitoring workload. They can’t give reliable commitments to clients. Don’t know when people have time. Don’t know what projects are at risk, before they run into problems. Don’t know how to prioritize work. Despite sophisticated systems they have for it.

Theory of Constraints

The weakest link of projects organizations is how they do project portfolio management. In the philosophy of Justus von Liebig and Theory of Constraints, crystal clear overview is the scarcest nutrition or the weakest link. Regardless of how many measures you have for your people, teams and projects, when you lose control managing the project portfolio, all measures are pointless.

Managing Project Pipelines

You might think this is a problem impossible to solve because practically all project organizations across the world struggle with portfolio management (or just don’t even try). But the truth is that project portfolios can be reorganized very quickly and effectively, taking away the major causes why projects run into problems. The secret is managing project pipelines.

Project Pipeline App

How that works, you learn in the Empower Your Projects Boot Camp. You’re going to set up the project pipeline for your own organization and learn how to manage it. And now what makes this project pipeline app unique: people, teams, project managers don’t need to change how they do their work, how they collaborate, or how they plan and manage projects. Because that is pointless.

Project Pipeline Boot Camp

If you want to solve the single biggest problem, and nothing seems to work, then join the Empower Your Projects Boot Camp. With our help you can do this yourself! Next boot camp starts July 6th!