07 October 2010

Interesting article in Harvard Business Review

In the September number of Harvard Business Review there is a very interesting article, "Mistakes Leaders Keep Making", by Robert H. Schaffer. This article highlights four behavioral traps that thwart organizational change. It is an excellent article, and while the focus is on organizational change and the relationship between executives and subordinates, the issues highlighted and the suggested solutions are directly transferable to teams carrying out complex projects. My translation of his behavioral traps to a team setting is:

• Behavioral trap 1 : Executives and sponsors typically fail to set proper expectations for the teams carrying out critical but complex projects

• Behavioral trap 2: Teams carrying out complex projects are not staffed with the appropriate people because they are "too busy" and/or are protected by their line managers

• Behavioral trap 3: It is safer psychologically to "sign a fat check to a consultant and hope for the best"

• Behavioral trap 4: Delays in reaching key milestones are tolerated if the project team is able to point to dependencies to other company activities (we need a new computer system before we can………………..)

I believe that these behavioral traps are very similar to the "seven deadly sins" I have written about in previous blog-entries. This means that these issues can be addressed by going through a step-by-step process to ensure that the internal project is set up correctly, and by carefully carrying out an ongoing quality and timeliness controls. Follow the links if you are interested in more information on project planning or project management training.