Trusting the people, trusting the process

You can look at Project Management processes in an organization from the perspective of two extremes – (1) pushing towards strengthening the process (process-centric) and (2) pushing towards strengthening the Project Managers themselves (PM-centric). While arguably this is a spectrum and one can envisage variants which are considering both the process and the PM, there is a tendency to continue putting weight on one or the other.

Process-centric aims to focus primarily on creating a standardized lifecycle of a project, providing standardized tools, and expecting the project managers to follow and use them meticulously. Usually the next step is to introduce controls, and build reporting, QA, and audits around them.

By contrast, a vanilla PM-centric approach focuses more on empowering the PM, providing him or her the tools he or she needs, providing access to resources, trainings, but still leaving plenty of space to adjust, taylor the approach, depending on circumstances, size, stakeholders and such.

The appetite for one approach or the other is a function of organization size and complexity, but also regulatory scrutiny, among others. It’s not easy to leave the reigns to an imperfect human being, even with necessary oversight, when there are high stakes involved. In fact, it’s not always possible, as regulators impose certain rules that later govern the said approach.

It is however important to recognize the difference and assess preference as a PM – an organization with little wiggle room to flex one’s muscles as a leader, little appetite for adaptability, is not a place where everyone feels comfortable in.

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