Project management and execution matter

Business, philanthropy and government are littered with people with good (and not so good) ideas, but have little comprehension of how to execute them. The importance of project managers who can get those ideas to the finish line cannot be overstated.

My friend D is one of those people. My favorite story about D will reveal much about her thought process. During a major project, I was curious why she was having a multi-sectional report on our findings and recommendations produced in a haphazard fashion. She said simply we can produce the Introduction, Appendices and Sections 6, 7 and 8 as they are completed now. We will do the other sections summarizing our findings and results when they are completed.

This is a simple example as she and other project managers work with multiple entities and people to get things done. What complicates it further is people have other things to do. I describe my old kind of work as juggling while walking forward. The key is to keep walking, while trying not to drop any balls. D made this happen.

I was thinking of this today as we have leaders throwing out ideas, without any funding to get things done. Or, the solutions are inconsistent with a recognition that past funding cuts may have contributed to a problem occurring.

So, in all these kinds of organizations, ideas are important, but we need to have people that can make them happen and maintain the solution once implemented. And, they require funding.

Let me leave you with a true story. There is a neat movie called “Einstein and Eddington.” You likely have not heard of the latter, but may not know the former without his contribution. Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, at much personal and legal risk, collaborated with a Albert Einstein, a German scientist when his government forbid it due to the Great War. What did he do? He proved Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Einstein was the idea man, but needed someone to demonstrate through a specific effort that he was right.

Blessed are the doers and those who organize and manage their efforts. Without them, our ideas may remain as only that. And, blessed are those who realize the doers need funding.




14 thoughts on “Project management and execution matter

  1. Note to Readers: I have worked with some rather inventive people, yet they would never be confused as a project manager. It was essential to make sure a good project manager was on an inventive team leader’s team. If we did not, there would too much effort made at the last minute increasing the opportunity for error.

    I once worked on a team in a joint venture led by a company who advertises how well managed they are. I was amazed at how much work was needed at 10 pm the night before a meeting. It was exhausting to see this happen over the course of multiple several months projects.

  2. Dear Keith,

    You are so right. How many songs, artists would we NOT HAVE become acquainted with, if there weren’t practical folks who know how to get things done.

    You need both and both need to value each other. This doesn’t always happen.

    One of my funniest stories is about trying to introduce a budding artist to executives at the Kenner Toy Company around 1976-1977. The guy with the pin striped suit, coiffed haircut and then the artist with his long hair, jeans. The kid managed to get hired on a contract basis but this was not a match made in heaven.

    It would have been easier if executives had been trained to value the diversity of ideas.

    Hugs, Gronda

  3. Note to Readers: One of the more difficult project management exercises is to manage a multi-layered merger of two companies. What many do not realize is more than half of mergers are not successful, meaning the combined entity produces less profit than the sum of the two separate ones. A key reason is failure to integrate cultures and manage the process. Companies tend to focus more on processes and products and forget the management of human capital, the most valuable part of the equation.

  4. And it isn’t only funding that may fall short when leaders start tossing out ‘brilliant’ ideas, but also manpower and purpose. I have worked with a number of managers who came up with an idea for which there was no earthly purpose, but they were determined to see it carried out … perhaps rather like building a wall? The best leaders, I think, are those who have skilled and capable people working for/with them, and they listen to those people, bring them into the loop, make them feel as if they are an integral part of the project. But then, I was the one who, when an staff member complained about me being too demanding, my boss told her, “we didn’t hire Jill for her personality … we hired her because she’s a damned good accountant.” 😄

    • Jill, that is high praise – “damn good accountant.” Like you, I have seen new leaders come in and announce initiatives, some of which were dumb the day they were announced or had been tried and failed. I have seen many initiatives fail, because they would not take people off their regular jobs and the team would be spending only part time on something that needed full time effort (this happens on major technology implementations like a HRIS/ Payroll system).

      Given your bent for detail, I am not surprised by your moniker. Take care, Keith

      • Thanks Keith! Yes, sometimes I think that new managers feel that they have to do something … anything … to make a mark, to prove that they are doing something. When I worked in publishing, my 140-year-old firm, Standard Publishing, was sold to a large New England company. They immediately sent in a new CEO who announced, on his first day, new seating arrangements for everyone. No reason, no logic, the man didn’t know anyone from Adam, but he shuffled people just to show that he was doing something. He didn’t last very long. 😊

      • Jill, that may be the dumbest move a new CEO could make. Just tick people off on the first day for no reason. Keith

  5. Pingback: Daily Kind Quote – Erika Kind

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