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Reflection – Jun Shao

by on October 29, 2007

In Wednesday class, we were asked the question about the possible strategies of short term wins, easy or difficult, especially when we were the project managers of our first projects. No wonder, Kevin’s answer was very instructive. If you had the domain expertise and that was the reason why you had been chosen as the project manager, you might use your expertise to accomplish the project, starting with most difficult parts. Otherwise, when communication became you main job, you might start the project by talking with different persons and thus you could find the expertise to ensure the progress of the project as scheduled. Finally you would integrate all the efforts and resources to accomplish the project.

Kevin’s answer was focused on the project managers because the question was to ask for our possible actions of short term wins at the beginning. After the review of the class slides, I found it might be good to explore the question in other different dimensions.

Firstly, we can not always pay enough attention to project stakeholders. Kevin’s answer mentioned domain experts and team members. They are essential to accomplish projects. They were the executing force of projects. Without them, we could not ensure the possible progress of projects. However, I have to mention other stakeholders, boards, senior managers, and etc. They are the demanding force of projects. Without them, the projects can not even get necessary resources. We have to negotiate with them about budgets, timelines, and deliveries. As project managers, we have to leave them a positive impression at the very beginning and thus we can develop good relationship with them to get the continuous support of projects, which could decide whether the projects are successful or not.

Secondly, it is the project characteristics. Every project is unique. Some projects are very technique oriented. A domain expert, chosen as a project manager, may start to explore the technique issues. Some projects are cost sensitive. Their project managers prefer to work out cost saving plans and put them into practice at the very beginning. Other projects such as the Manhattan project (the first atomic bomb development project during World War II) might have strong security concerns, the project managers might work on firewalls, and authorization mechanisms to ensure all the data of the projects are well-protected. Even some projects are very similar. They are unique in their categories which differ from other project categories. As project managers, we will like to apply the experience of the similar projects. Meanwhile, we might pay attention to the uniqueness of the projects at the beginning. As Heraclitus, a Greece philosopher, said, you can not step into the same river twice.

Project context is another dimension. If you have worked for different organizations, you might find the way that they run their project are different. For example, IBM and Microsoft have different procedures to release their products even they are both the big Information Technique companies in the United States. Furthermore, organizations in different countries have much different project contexts. Diverse cultures, laws, and ethics all make quite different in running projects. In the East Asia, people are not as aggressive as the westerns. They are modest and tend to deliver their wins at the end of their projects since the custom there appreciates final results of success rather than short term wins at the very beginning. Fortunately, globalization begins to erase the barriers among different countries so that we can work together. The world is becoming flat. However, even two projects that one project team has worked on might have different contexts. For example, a project which started in a holiday season is different from the ones in the normal work days. The project manager had to ensure the enough work forces to achieve the progress of the project at the beginning since many team members had vocation at that time.

In all, there are many factors to decide our short term win strategies. The short term wins are one of the momentums to push the project team forward to reach its destination while the way to accomplish projects is not always even. We might think about the reasons why the road is not even and then work out the relative solutions to overcome those problems.

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