Dr. W. Edwards Deming recently re-introduced to me in my Project Performance and Quality Assurance class. I have heard of him before and touched on some of his philosophy in other classes, but focused much more in-depth this time. The majority of his philosophy around quality and organizational management resonate with me. So, I’ve decided to do a series of articles on Deming’s 14 points, and how they relate specifically to the field of project management. I may decide to not touch on all of them or I may. I am not really sure at this point.
Deming claimed that the sense of having helped other people is the most significant motivator and source of job satisfaction. It is one of the biggest enablers for pride of workmanship.
Of the projects you have worked on, think about the ones you are most proud of. What is it that makes you look back and say, “Wow! Look what we did!!!”
Does meeting an arbitrary project deadline set by a sponsor make you proud of the project? Does fulfilling the written requirements even though the customer expectations were not met make you feel like you’ve really done something important? Probably not.
Personally, I feel the most pride when:
- a really significant positive impact was made and
- I helped people and know they are grateful for what was accomplished.
I want people to think and say “wow!” even if it is only to themselves about something the team did, big or small. These criteria are true for me whether I am managing the project, or am participating as an individual contributor.
Project managers should be looking for the great things their teams are doing. People on their projects should know that when they go above and beyond, they will be recognized. A huge part of this is that the PM must be unselfish and there to serve their people. Servant leadership, that is what is required. The PM should start with the viewpoint that the multitude of talent on their team is going to come up with better ideas than the PM can alone, and not be afraid to embrace those ideas.
Another key point is the avoidance of micromanaging projects. Tasks should be broken down to a certain level where the individual contributor can apply their expertise, and no further. Let them execute how they wish based on their talent and expertise. Be there to guide and serve, yes, but not to micromanage. Micromanaging is one of the quickest ways to kill the soul of a project team.
Josh Nankivel is the Vice Chair of Special Projects for the Students of Project Management SIG of PMI, and a project management student/enthusiast. His website is http://www.pmstudent.com.