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.
In order for continuous improvement to become organizational culture, it must also become a personal goal for every employee. Self-improvement should not be limited to immediate application, that would be an example of short-term thinking. Employees are the most important assets of an organization, and therefore require effort to retain and enhance them.
On project teams, the most important assets are the individual contributors that make the project happen. I believe in making all relevant project documentation available to the whole team, including planning exercises and other resources. Explaining your approach as a project manager is key to helping everyone understand the method to your madness, and by example you can help develop organizational and project skills in them. Anyone can become much more productive when they learn and apply many of the concepts in project management. Other skills will come through such as time management, documentation/configuration management, leadership, communication, planning techniques, estimating, and scheduling/work flow management.
If you are a project manager of a permanent group of project team members, you have an even better opportunity to help them grow personally and professionally. On a permanent team, you may even have the power to set aside training time for everyone where they can plan to educate themselves on any topic they wish. This reminds me of Google’s policy of setting aside time for developers to work on their own personal projects without any interference or direction given from management.
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.