5 Questions From a Reader

Today I don't feel like writing.

I'm in Brussels (Belgium), having escaped from Queen's Day in The Netherlands, my least favorite national holiday. But I have been following this day's terrible news in Holland, and I cannot concentrate on writing an inspiring blog post. Sorry.

That's why I am glad that Angelo Anolin sent me a number of project management questions. It is much easier to answer other people's questions than it is to answer my own questions. So, here we go:

Q1. How do you select/choose the best possible candidate of your technical team?  Do you have some sort of criteria / selection process which you may want to share?

Our selection process for project team members is informal, and almost impossible to describe. There are many variables to take into account, like availability, knowledge, experience, preferences, motivation, location, etc. Choosing people for a project always involves compromises, because there is never an ideal match. In fact, my advise would be not to have a documented selection process, because people make smarter decisions than criteria checklists and processes. I therefore simply leave this up to the project managers and development managers to coordinate amongst each other.

Q2. How do you ensure that each person on your project team is highly motivated?

That's impossible. I cannot make sure that people are motivated. They can only motivate themselves. But what we can do is to leave as many decisions as possible to the teams. (Except of course the constraints that were already imposed by the customer.) Management doesn't direct how projects are done. The teams (including project managers, business consultants and account managers) have to figure that out together. This often leads to conflicts of interest, but the freedom can also be motivating. (At least I hope it works that way for most of our people.)

Q3. How do you cope when one (or some) of your project(s) is/are getting way behind schedules and upper management is pinching you on the matter?

Well, I am upper management, so it's me doing the pinching. 🙂 As a manager I understand that it is next to impossible to make a project go faster. I usually assume that teams are already doing the best they can. My job is just to stimulate that feeling of urgency, by making teams accountable for their results, by asking questions, and by confronting the teams with their own performance. But I'm not going to tell them how to speed up their projects. They know better than me what the options are.

Q4. How do you decide on the methodology with which to apply on your project?

We apply Scrum as the basic process framework, and we allow teams to adapt the process to match the project they're working on. Every project is different, and every time some changes are needed in the way people work.

Q5. Best advice (or something learned) ever from a person on your project team?

I've learned so much from other people, I don't even know what the best advice was. But I think the biggest effects on projects can be noticed when people read. When they read books, blogs, or magazines, and implement what they learned, the performance and success of projects can be improved significantly. I achieved my best successes simply by reading and learning from others. And I'm always glad to see when others are reading books and blogs, and actively improving their knowledge.

Well, those were the questions from Angelo Anolin. I'm sorry if this is not as thought-provoking as some of my other materials. If anybody else has some questions, feel free to send them to me. In the meantime I'll get back to checking the news on this sad and black day for the
people in my country.

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