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“In the early 1950s, the Dayak people of Borneo suffered from malaria.
The World Health Organization had a solution: it sprayed large amounts of DDT
to kill the mosquitoes that carried the malaria. The mosquitoes died; the malaria
declined – so far, so good. But there were side effects. Among the first
was that the roofs of people's houses began to fall down on their heads. It
seemed that the DDT was also killing a parasitic wasp that had previously controlled
thatch-eating caterpillars. Worse, the DDT-poisoned insects were eaten by geckoes,
which were eaten by cats. The cats started to die, the rats flourished, and
the people were threatened by potential outbreaks of typhus and plague. To cope
with these problems, which it had itself created, the WHO was obliged to parachute
14,000 live cats into Borneo.
This tale about a lack of whole-systems thinking underscores that if we
don't understand how things are connected, then often the cause of problems
is the solution.
But if we harness hidden connections, we can often solve
or avoid a problem in a way that also solves or avoids many others without making
new ones – before someone needs to parachute more cats.” (Rocky
Mountain Institute, September, 2002)
Many credit unions are disappointed with their project management efforts –
missed deadlines, wasted time and misspent money – resulting in organizational
fatigue. In many cases it is a lack of whole-systems thinking – not understanding
the key ‘connections’ of the project management process –
that is blocking their successes.
Project Management is a system of ‘connections’ working
together – rather than discrete activities working separately.
This system of ‘connections’ is made up of several key
elements. These elements are:
Gaps might exist in your Project Management system of ‘connections’!
Prioritizing Projects: Prioritizing is critical to the entire
process of project management, yet is often not done. Determine a process whereby
the executive team ‘votes’ on a priority order listing of ‘current,
queued, and dropped’ projects. If executives don’t prioritize, then
by default they have abdicated ‘what gets done and when’ to the
people who actually have to do the work, whom may not have all the facts to
make the same choices the executive team would.
Project Business Case to Establish ROI: As credit unions grow,
it's important that both a framework, and attention, be brought to project management.
Each strategic project needs a Business Case. A Business Case defines each project
and lays out the case (the ‘why’ and the ‘how’) for
executing it. Included is a high-level alignment statement with the credit union’s
strategy, broad objectives, risks, estimated cost and effort, talent, resources,
team authority, and project scope.
Project Charter/Plan: The Project Charter/Plan includes developing
the detailed scope, authority and evaluation criteria, as well as selecting
the most effective talent for team members. This is the constant touch point
to ensure the related Project Schedule is constantly aligned.
Project Schedule (Deliverables and Tasks): The Project Charter/Plan
results in the Project Schedule Guide, which becomes necessary to develop the
project milestones and tasks, track due dates, completion dates, and resources,
as well as to note knowledge learned. The goals are to keep the project on track
and to reduce the learning curve for the next team who works on a similar project.
Project Meeting Management: Project members must ensure that
a meeting framework is followed, including agenda, team member preparation,
minutes, team member discussion and decisions. In addition, follow-up items
should be captured, together with all project information being organized and
made easily accessible for staff to see.
Project Training: Often, managers put themselves on all the
project teams because they ‘want to know what is going on.’ If there
is a project management process that is followed and an effective project training
program developed for staff, managers and executives can be ‘coaches’
rather than ‘players.’ They can build staff leadership through delegation
– and spend time more wisely doing other important work.
Project Communications: Ensuring that a granular and ‘big
picture’ view of how all these elements are being leveraged allows executives,
managers and staff to quickly and easily access or distribute project(s) updates.
Consequently, better decisions can be made concerning all strategy projects,
resources, and results.
What can the right Project Management system of ‘connections’
do for you?
Based on a survey conducted this year by Cardwell, when a project management
system of connections was followed, credit unions achieved the following results:
projects were completed at least 30% faster, managers got back an average of
4 hours per week to do other important work, and project quality became at least
To answer your questions about effective Project Management, please contact:
Jim Cardwell — email@example.com
— (800) 395-1410 or
Karla Norwood — firstname.lastname@example.org
— (800) 395-1410
November 29, 2004
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