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Project Management Insights From The War On DementiaExperts say many people could avoid dementia by adopting healthier diets, exercising more, and giving up smoking, but that what the world needs urgently is effective drugs. G8 aims to beat dementia by 2025 with AIDS-style fight, Dec 11, 2013, Reuters.com, by Ben Hirschler.

This one passage struck me like so many drug ads on U.S. TV. While they quietly tell me what they don’t want me to notice (all the drug’s side effects) they loudly emphasize what they want me to believe — that all my problems go away when using their wonder drug. They then tell me they want me to do, which is to talk to my doctor to get the drug.

In comparison, in this article on beating dementia, they nicely tell me how I can reduce my risk of dementia (eat right, exercise regularly, etc.) — which I admit dementia scares me to pieces — but then the clarion call is that we need new drugs immediately! It seems we don’t want to put our effort and money into avoiding the issue in the first place. No, people can do that on their own if they want. Instead we want drugs now, so we can fix the problems when we don’t do the right things.

This is similar to a classic problem I face when working with organizations. The long-term solution for organizations that struggle to deliver projects on time with good quality is often to estimate and plan projects better and to eliminate bad management habits. However, we are inevitably already in a world of hurt and so we need a huge, spectacular solution to fix the problems we are facing right now! Often times, the sky’s the limit when it comes to new resources and money, as long as it will lead to delivering as promised. The consequence is that when I talk about how we will avoid this in future projects, nobody wants to hear about that now.

See instead The Golden Goose of Project Management – The Crisis

Too often, I’ve been in organizations that readily rewarded those folks who managed those less than successful projects. Why?  Because they were willing to leap in and do the best they could and drive everyone else with an unholy zeal. The poor results didn’t ultimately matter too much because we always delivered our projects late and buggy. That is just how big projects are, we argued. We really can’t estimate and deliver projects this big in any reliable way. Look, no one else really does it and when they seem to — they must have fudged the numbers — just like we did!

See in addition Successful Managers Without Having Successful Projects

I recall an incident where I would normally have been the project manager for our next big project. I had just finished helping our just completed project not be as horrible as it looked like it would be. After some time, I realized the new project was kicking off, but without me as the lead.

I asked if I had been considered for leading this project. I was told I was originally the #1 candidate, but they decided to give it to someone else for reasons they never shared. They did share that part of the decision was the assurance that if the project started to fail, they could always call me in, as they did on the recent project, and I could rescue it. In other words, as long as we felt we had a quick fix for any problems, then we could continue managing as we always had, badly, and then apply the fix when needed instead of avoiding the need in the first place.

It seems we all too often pay lip service to what we really need to do to keep things on track. We instead focus in on the big, exciting, new, different, emergency, short-cut approach to solving the problem instead of the boring way of avoiding it in the first place. We want something on steroids. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Let’s do drugs and forget about dieting and exercise. That’s too hard and simply not as exciting. Who wants to avoid problems? They pay us big bucks to fix them!

For more see Why Successful Projects Are Boring and Is Your Project Management On Steroids?

What are the real long term things your organization needs to be doing to really improve?

Thank you for sharing!

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