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The Self Evident Truths of Project Management: #14 - “Internal staff have the deep smarts to deliver extraordinary results"

The Self Evident Truths of Project Management: #14 - “Internal staff have the deep smarts to deliver extraordinary results"

What is the value of the expert?

The past 20 years has seen the rise of the ‘expert’ — for example, expert project managers, business analysts, architects and six sigma folk. These ‘experts’ all help to move the project away from the business and its staff. “They” will deliver the project, becomes the business’ view.

But this does not have to be the norm. We have proven over the past 15 years that you can take previously inexperienced staff and teach them how to deliver a project step-by-step as they do it — and deliver extraordinary results.

What the internal staff have over everyone else is knowledge of the current business, how it works and how it fits together, Now they are not conscious of much of this knowledge, but it is there, buried in their non-conscious. This is their ‘deep smarts’.

When you tap into this deep smarts knowledge and provide the staff with the tools to, for example, simplify their processes or define their business case or plan and execute a change program; they can do it. And, once they have a bit of confidence they get their ‘tails up’ and really get going. As the facilitator you then have to get out of their way!

This is not to say the ‘experts’ are not needed at all, but that you can deliver quite complex and sizeable projects with just a few ‘experts’ facilitating existing staff. One major SAP implementation was managed/facilitated by one non-IT project manager and a complete cast of non-project experts. The project came in on time, 10% under budget and realised all of the benefits. Not many ‘experts’ can claim that.

It’s not that people can’t do it, its just that they just don’t know how to do it. So you have to teach them one step at a time. Try two steps, and they’ll fail. Train, use, practise, learn, apply; train, use, practise, learn, apply. It’s simple.

When you get the staff to do it themselves their understanding and commitment increases and resistance to change dissipates. You can get more done in less time.

What I’ve spent the past 15 years doing is breaking the end-to-end project delivery process into steps that can be taught. We’re almost at the stage where we don’t need any ‘experts’.

This raises the question of the value of the experts. If a progressively trained previously inexperienced staff member can be trained and facilitated to deliver results four times that of an experience, expensive ‘black belt’ — why would you bother with the ‘expert’?

© Jed Simms, Australia, 2009, Jed@valuedeliverymanagement.com


Further support and useful tools to help you manage your investments, projects and portfolio are available from valuedeliverymanagement.com.

For the previous article in this series visit The Self Evident Truths of Project Management: Truth # 13 “The PMO should be a sub-committee of the Investment Committee”.

For the first article in this series visit The Self Evident Truths of Project Management: Truth #1 - We do projects to realise the Associated benefits.

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