My Projects

Octber 18, 2008 551 comments so far

Project Leadership in a Financial Crisis?

The current financial crisis and the banking fiasco reminded me that especially in times like this, effective project leadership and controlling can make a significant difference. Let's take a look at at some of the dos and don'ts...

Let me put this straight. I do not claim to have all the answers. But I have managed projects in the past where resources were extremely scarce. And given the fact that more and more medium-sized and large corporations are scaling down their workforce, the next person to face this challenge could be you.

So let me try to come up with a few basic rules that I believe make sense in a situation like this. Please note, these rules are derived from my personal past experience. I hope they are helpful, but there are no guarantees or whatsoever. Therefore, proceed at your own risk ;-).

  1. Work with the right people and make sure that the right people stay on the bus. In a crisis situation you do not need more people, you need less. Use a small, efficient "strike force" of the brightest and most motivated people you can get your hands on.
  2. Solve the bottlenecks and most complex issues first, because they will require most of your energy, but at the same time really bring you forward. Try to keep your eyes on the "big picture", but cut the problems you need to solve into more manageable pieces.
  3. Be pragmatic. Do not get into academic discussions, but get the job done. The most simple solution is often the best and at the same time the most elegant one. If you are stuck on one problem put it onto a "waiting" stack and move forward to the next issue.
  4. Develop a "true sense of urgency" as John Kotter put it. Do not get into "panic mode", but be sure that everyone knows what is at stakes. Try to move quickly, but do not throw key principles such as simplicity, innovation, maintainability and quality overboard.
  5. Do not stop project planning and controlling when you need them most, but be sure to do it in a clear and lean way. Pick the right processes, templates and tools - do not compromise. You need effective and simple tools rather than complex solutions.

What about you? I am sure you also have a few dos or don'ts to share? Come on!