Managing projects – keeping a focus on goals
Sunday 3 March 2013
by Bob Dignen
Many professionals leading projects do so with a very strong goal focus. One of their core competences, as they see it, is to keep in mind at all times the budget, deadlines and scope which were specified in the original business case. This is what project controlling, the classical job of a project management office, is all about, ensuring that things stay on track.
It’s an approach which has its advantages, of course. Effective management is partly about planning effectively and then executing according to plan. In this way resources are effectively used, and a business can move forward in a structured and coherent way. However, those with a high goal focus often run into problems when working in international projects for a couple of reasons. Firstly, international projects bring with them a great deal of uncertainty and complexity which makes effective upfront planning quite difficult, if nigh impossible. One of the arts of managing complexity is actually the ability to plan and then replan according to shifting contingencies. It’s a philosophy and approach embodied in the emerging disciplines of Agile and SCRUM project management.
The other challenge to those with a preference for strong planning is that many business cultures – whether organisational or national – operate with a different set of values, favouring individual, ad hoc, creative and unsupervised entrepreneurial approaches to doing business. Less efficient in some ways, it may be true. But the freedom, innovation and proximity to specific customer needs offers greater rewards in terms of motivated staff and satisfied customers than the guarantee of meeting defined plans.
Those working internationally and across cultures, of course, need to strike a balance between these two differing philosophies and practices of doing business – high goal and low goal focus.
High goal focus
Low goal focus
More likely to achieve goals on time
Establishes clear sense of direction in project
Clarity and simplicity
Better able to adapt to customer priorities
Can explore alternative approaches
Quick to adapt to changing circumstaces
May struggle to adapt to new situations
May generate conflict if unable to change
May be felt as inflexible by customers
Lose sight of the main objective
May waste time and money
Can look like weak leadership if too changeable
Everyone in international projects works with goals. The problem is that people have very different values and approaches associated with the word. And very often, this is not discovered until too late. Take time when working in projects to clarify early the meanings and values which international colleagues attach to that very little word ‘goal’ – it may save a whole lot of heartache.
Delta Development Blog
This blog will be updated at least once a week, so add it to your bookmarks. You can also subscribe to the feed to be notified when it's updated.
Meet the Bloggers
- Bob Dignen & Steve Flinders (February to April 2013)
- Hania Kryszewska & Paul Davis (April to June 2012)
- Louis Rogers (January to March 2012)
- Ken Paterson (December 2011 to February 2012)
- Richard Brown & Lewis Richards (September to November 2011)
- Liz Walter & Kate Woodford (September to October 2011)
- Kyle Mawer & Graham Stanley (April to August 2011)
- Nik Peachey (from November 2010)
- Nicky Hockly (September & October 2010)
- Julie Pratten (July & August 2010)
- Gill Johnson (April 2010)
- Chaz Pugliese (March 2010)
- Luke Meddings (August 2009)
- Lindsay Clandfield (July 2009)
- Duncan Foord (June 2009)
- Scott Thornbury (May 2009)
The Company Words Keep
Part of the multi-award-winning Delta Teacher Development Series. The Company Words Keep is a practical and thought-provoking guide for language teachers, showing how the latest insights into “language chunks” can lead to learners acquiring natural and fluent English.
Teaching Unplugged was awarded the British Council 2010 ELTons UK Award for Innovation. Teaching Unplugged is the first book to deal comprehensively with the approach in English Language Teaching known as Dogme ELT.
The Developing Teacher
The Developing Teacher has been awarded the 2009 Duke of Edinburgh/ESU Award for Best Entry for Teachers. The Developing Teacher suggests that teachers themselves are the most powerful agents of change and development in their own professional career.
Culture in our Classrooms
Part of the Delta Teacher Development Series. Culture in our Classrooms acknowledges the role of culture in the English Language Teaching classroom and provides lesson content which is relevant, useful and engaging for students.
The Book of Pronunciation
Part of the multi-award-winning Delta Teacher Development Series. The Book of Pronunciation is a definitive account of the key role pronunciation plays in teaching and learning, providing a highly authoritative but hugely accessible overview of the essential elements of English pronunciation as well as a wide range of classroom practice.
Part of the Delta Teacher Development Series. Being Creative takes you on a journey that reveals how all teachers have the potential to become creative. Whether you are experienced or new to the classroom, Being Creative allows your teaching to take flight.
DIGITAL PLAY - 2012 ELTONS WINNER IN INNOVATION IN TEACHER RESOURCES! Digital Play is a pioneering book on the use of computer games in language teaching. Authors Kyle and Graham are experts in teaching with technology and training teachers in innovative classroom practice.
Teaching Online is essential reading for any teacher interested in online teaching and course delivery. It deals comprehensively with both the tools and the techniques necessary for online language instruction.
The Business English Teacher
From the multi-award-winning DELTA TEACHER DEVELOPMENT SERIES. The Business English Teacher is a book not only for teachers who are thinking of making a career move into the field of business English teaching but also for those who would like to increase their skills and develop their potential.
11 Feb 16
8 Jan 16
2 Jul 15
16 Jun 15
2 Jun 15
29 Apr 15
10 Apr 15
8 Apr 15
1 Apr 15
13 Mar 15
13 Feb 15
30 Jan 15
16 Jan 15
11 Dec 14
27 Nov 14