Project mismanagers – some stereotypes
Poor project management practices abound. Many projects are mismanaged in one or more ways ( clarification: this obviously does not apply to any of the projects I’ve managed). Rather than catalogue poor PM practices, I thought it might be more fun to illustrate some of these through a bunch of stereotypically incompetent project managers. You might recognise aspects of project managers you’ve encountered in the following caricatures:
Barry Bureaucrat: Barry has a form for everything. He won’t move until all the paperwork is completed and signed. If you want action from him, you have no choice but to play along. A warning: Barry is a master of fine print – beware of sneaky small print caveats and disclaimers within each of his forms.
Clarence Clueless: Clarry is easy to identify – he’s a project manager with a vacuously vacant (repeated redundancy used for emphasis) look on his face. He looks like he doesn’t know what’s going on, and it’s not an act. He really doesn’t have a clue.
Conroy Cowboy: Con is a cool guy, with a strictly shoot-from-the-hip approach. He believes in reacting fast to events, even if that means there’s no thought preceding the action. Watch out for Con, as his aim isn’t so hot – be sure to duck before the shooting starts.
Igor Inflexible: Igor’s inflexible. Once he has an opinion, he’s congenitally incapable of changing it. If you’re charged with convincing him about something that he disagrees with – good luck, you’ll need it.
Mac Machiavelli: Mac’s a schemer. Plotting and planning come naturally to him. Unfortunately all his planning efforts are geared towards implementing nefarious plots to further his career. To him the project and team are important only to the extent that they serve his relentless pursuit of fame and glory.
Norman No-decision: Norm enjoys discussing issues and analysing them. He’s spent many enjoyable hours (days, months!) analysing, re-analysing and re-reanalysing things, ad nauseum. However, he finds it impossible to make any decisions. He’s elevated Analysis Paralysis to a fine art.
Sally Shifter: Sally has an unblemished record as a project manager. This is mainly because she’s a a master (mistress?) at shifting the blame for mess-ups on to other people (generally her team members). Remember this when you’re stuck with Sally: always document your actions (through email etc.). This will serve as insurance if (when!) she starts playing the blame game.
There are several more of these characters lurking in corporate project management offices. I’ll cover a few more of them in a future post.