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Project Management Accountability – Where Does the Buck Stop?. Steven A. Vinson, PMP 14 years of life science project leadership Appointed officer: PMI PharmaSIG B.S. Chemical Engineering Technical Depth: Pharma/biotech manufacturing and development Allied chemical Healthcare

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project management accountability where does the buck stop
Project Management Accountability – Where Does the Buck Stop?

Steven A. Vinson, PMP

  • 14 years of life science project leadership
  • Appointed officer: PMI PharmaSIG
  • B.S. Chemical Engineering
  • Technical Depth:
    • Pharma/biotech manufacturing and development
    • Allied chemical
    • Healthcare
    • Telecommunications

For more info or to contact Mr. Vinson: www.vinsoncorp.com

project management accountability where does the buck stop1
Project Management Accountability – Where does the buck stop?
  • Begin with the end in mind
  • Accountability is contagious
  • Character that Matters
  • Managing Up
  • Walk the Talk
begin with the end in mind
Begin with the end in mind
  • Start out Right
  • Measure Objectively
  • Turn over Control
start out right
Start Out Right
  • At kickoff, stress the value of mutual respect and collaboration
    • Those who take on tasks will rest assured they are in a supportive environment and will more readily accept accountability
measure objectively
Measure Objectively
  • Goals must be measurable
  • Performance assessment must be based on objective data whenever possible
  • Accountability decisions based on facts
    • Not distorted by opinions, politics, and desire for power
turn over control
Turn Over Control
  • A sense of accountability requires a sense of control
  • If several levels of approvals are needed for routine tasks, it will be abundantly clear that someone is accountable…
        • it is just not them
accountability is contagious
Accountability is Contagious
  • Carpe Auctoritas

(Seize Authority)

  • Support and Clarify Continuously
  • Align Support Groups
carpe auctoritas
Carpe Auctoritas
  • Auctoritas (Latin) – Authority derived from a combination of prestige, initiative, and influence.
  • Often used in reference to the Roman Senate, which accomplished much, though it held no legislative power
  • Project Managers must seize authority when appropriate
support and clarify continuously
Support And Clarify Continuously
  • Reinforce this value through your communication and actions
  • Team members must feel that they can trust leadership
  • Proactively manage expectations of customers, executive management, and all stakeholders
support and clarify continuously1
Support And Clarify Continuously
  • Frequently changing expectations can be a drain on a sense of accountability
  • It is easier to blame changes for not attaining goals than it is to commit to getting the job done – take away the excuse!
align support groups
Align Support Groups
  • Functional groups must be aligned with business goals
  • The project manager is the glue that holds it all together
    • legal, accounting, human resources, marketing, etc.
      • Clear expectations; clear connection to project success
      • Successful work team interaction
  • If key inputs are not under the control of project employees, it is natural to cede accountability
character that matters
Character that Matters
  • Seek out accountability
  • Be politically aware, but rise above office politics
  • Define project success in business and technical terms – not in terms of personal gain
  • Do the right thing
  • Provide support, honor trust
managing up
Managing Up
  • Use the project charter (and not as a club)
  • Advocate for the team
  • Minimize Constraints
project charter
Project Charter
  • Confers formal authority
  • Documents vision
  • Objective and non-threatening
advocate for the team
Advocate for the team
  • Executive sponsor ultimately provides authority
  • Team members take risks to be accountable for project results that may not have derived directly from functional managers – convince sponsor to run interference
  • Sell the project to ensure continued support and funding – accountability is nonexistent when the team feels funding or support could be withdrawn at any time (Part 11 example)
minimize constraints
Minimize Constraints
  • Sense of accountability is smothered by pressure from constraints that are beyond a team member’s control
  • Example  team staffing
    • If a project work team is short-handed & does not have the ability to bring in new workers, team feels helpless
    • Helplessness is the great destroyer of the sense of accountability
walk the talk
Walk the talk
  • Reward consistently and often
  • Promote use of group problem-solving techniques
  • Enable creativity and innovation
reward consistently and often
Reward Consistently And Often
  • If a team is truly accountable, they should be rewarded when they are successful

…and they must accept “corrective action” when the news is not so good

    • Public Recognition
    • Avoid perception of arbitrariness or favoritism
    • Reward accountability and success with increasing exposure and responsibility
  • Beware: Careful not to reward "non-accountable" performance
promote the use of group problem solving techniques
Promote The Use Of Group Problem-solving Techniques
  • Make sure teams work effectively to plan, identify obstacles, & develop their own solutions.
    • Then respect their conclusions
    • Otherwise, resulting pressure on participants will make them frustrated & eventually passive
enable creativity and innovation
Enable Creativity And Innovation
  • Nothing de-motivates high-performing, accountable workers more than institutionalized obstacles to goal attainment
  • Example  existing processes & procedures must have clear added value; allow flexibility whenever valuable
parting thoughts
Parting Thoughts
  • Why is this so much more difficult in Discovery and Development versus other project environments?
    • Project Size, Scope, Duration
    • Emotional ties to definitions of success
    • Weak matrix organizations whose business is primarily projects

Carpe Auctoritas!