16 Chapters
Medium 9781567262759

Chapter 11 - Governance and Project Portfolio Development: Steering the Ship

Weinstein, Jonathan Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

You’ve got to think about the big things, so that all the small things go in the right directions.

—ALVIN TOFFLER, FUTURIST, AUTHOR

With a billion dollar budget, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is a relatively small federal agency, but one with a highly critical mission. As the regulating agency for civilian nuclear activity in the United States, NRC oversees more than 350 nuclear power plants, as well as thousands of medical and commercial facilities that use nuclear materials. NRC protects people and the environment by ensuring a safe and viable commercial nuclear sector. To deliver on its mission, NRC relies on a sturdy backbone of information technology. A limited budget and IT department resources demand that NRC leadership make smart decisions at all phases of the project lifecycle. They have neither the budget for expensive mistakes nor a tolerance for lapses in service. What helps keep NRC’s regulatory infrastructure on target is a robust set of project management processes.

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Chapter 16 - The Promise of Project Management in the Federal Government: Looking Ahead

Weinstein, Jonathan Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

There is no quick road to project management maturity, but with perseverance and a thick skin, much can be done.

—ALLAN ROIT, ASSISTANT PMO DIRECTOR, FINANCIAL CRIMES ENFORCEMENT NETWORK, U.S. DEPARTMENT of the TREASURY

Among the things Americans expect, today more than ever, is effective government. Regardless of methods or tools, fundamental project management structures and individual skills are the key drivers to project success in the federal government. On a more macro level, the discipline of project management is a primary means of creating more effective government. What lies ahead for project management in the federal government?

The state of project management in the federal government varies from agency to agency. Yet, several trends are evident in the federal project management arena. While these trends do not represent the sum total of the future of project management in the federal government, they do indicate the direction project management is taking. Those on the front lines offer some insights and ideas for improving the discipline of project management across the federal government.

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Chapter 1 - The Evolution of Federal Project Management: Then and Now

Weinstein, Jonathan Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

We need to internalize this idea of excellence.

— PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

Throughout history mankind has labored to achieve amazing feats that defy our imagination: the great pyramids of Giza, the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, the D-Day invasion. Human beings—and governments—naturally seek to apply resources toward the creation of monuments, public works, and war. Although such efforts have spanned thousands of years, only in the past 60 years has the discipline of project management come to be formally recognized and defined.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) describes the federal government as “the world’s largest and most complex entity.”1 In terms of scale, the federal government expended about $3 trillion in fiscal year 2008 on operations and myriad projects to develop and provide new products and services—from bridge construction to aircraft development, from AIDS awareness to nuclear material disposal. The expenditure of these funds represents the single largest government marketplace in the world, employing many millions of people directly or indirectly. Federal project dollars are spread across state and local governments, often defining entire industries such as defense.

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Chapter 4 - Building Strong Teams: The Vehicle for Successful Projects

Weinstein, Jonathan Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.

—ANDREW CARNEGIE

Managers cannot do all the work of their teams; if they could, there would be no need for teams. Even the 19th century industrialist Andrew Carnegie knew that, as much as he would have liked to do everything himself, he needed others. One of the project manager’s or leader’s key responsibilities in both the federal government and the private sector is to ensure that team members work well with each other and are able to perform their individual jobs.

The particular structure of the team will depend in large part on the task, the organization or agency, and the people available (see Figure 4-1). The ideal staffing for a task or project simply may not be possible.

Figure 4-1: Project Team Structure

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Chapter 7 - Leadership and the Project Manager: Bearing the Brunt of the Storm

Weinstein, Jonathan Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

I believe the techniques and principles that work are timeless. It’s all about collaborating with people, building trust and confidence, and making sure you take care of the followers. You also need to give them what they need to do their work well, solve problems, face reality, create opportunities and monitor risks.

—GENERAL COLIN POWELL (U.S. ARMY RETIRED)1

The harsh and cynical view, regretfully often fact-based, is that the difference between leadership and management is that leaders motivate people to follow while managers force people to follow. A somewhat less harsh statement is that “Good managers do things right. Good leadership does the right thing.”2 As well as being cynical, for good leaders and managers, this view is oversimplified. A team needs both leaders and managers, and they can—even should—be the same people.

People running organizations, from the small work team assigned a task to the entire U.S. government, need to act as both leaders and managers, with strong elements of facilitator and mentor thrown into the mix. These are all different roles, but they are compatible and complementary—and all essential. Today’s federal project managers must expand their focus to include both leadership and management elements3 (see Figure 7-1).

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