Providing the Total Solution

Providing the Total Solution

The total solution needs more than just technology and process today. Referring again to Fred Brooks "No Silver Bullet", no single tool or approach will solve all issues. Even the P-CMM implementation must be viewed as a framework around which to manage the constant transformations of a team's personality. It must be used in conjunction with human and team personality assessment, applied with judgment, to increase a project's chance for success.

Managing Creativity

One of the criticisms of most frameworks is that they create bureaucracy and stifle creativity. In excess, this is true. But the absence of a good framework makes leading project teams very difficult and actually harms creativity. This is where the leader must decide how much is required for the situation at hand.

Creativity thrives in an environment that is safe and bounded. Children at play on a gym in a field with no boundaries show a reluctance to explore the area, clinging to the gym in the center because they fear violation of an unidentified boundary. If the boundaries are clearly marked with a fence or marker, the children feel free to explore every inch of the bounded area and do not cling to the center. This same phenomenon happens with professionals in a project setting. Given clear and well-defined boundaries, creativity is set free. The trick for the leader is to read the personalities properly and set the boundaries in the right place - not too tight, but not too loose.

When to Lead and When to Manage

This section is about leadership of project teams, but much of it concerns management. What's the difference between leadership and management? Management is about following policies and procedures, and doing things right as an agent of the project and organization. It is about execution and compliance. It is getting the project team to perform at its best to follow the project's goal. Management is about following processes. Following the P-CMM is a management activity.

Leadership is about conjuring up and following a vision, and communicating that vision to the project team. Leadership is about figuring out the right things to do and building a fire in the followers to do them. It is about passion and pursuing the leader's goal. Leadership is about setting direction. Creating the team charter and communicating it to the team are leadership activities. These concepts are summarized in Figure (a). It is best if the leader's goals and the project's goals are the same.

Leadership vs Management

Knowing when to lead and when to manage requires an understanding of the project's personality. Should "good" be encouraged or "evil" quashed? What does the situation call for?

A useful model for both leadership and management is Hersey and Blanchard's Situational Leadership Model. In the model, the kind of leadership to apply at a given time moves on a spectrum among four leadership styles, based on performer's maturity, as explained in Table 1. The model is shown in Figure (b).
Situational Leadership Model

Each of the styles is a mixture of task behavior (concern for the doing the job, shown on the y-axis) and relationship behavior (concern for the support of the followers who must do the job - the performers, shown on the x-axis). The curved shape suggests a typical "journey" of styles through an individual's situations, from S1 to S4 (right to left movement). This is like the journey that a team makes in the forming-storming-norming model explained previously.

Figure (c) advocates the leaders role in each of the four styles. In telling, the leader tells the performers not only what to do, but how to do it. The leader's role becomes less aggressive in selling and participating, until the leader is just an observer in delegating.

Leaders Role in Situational Leadership

In every case, the actions of the leader are determined by the readiness of the performers at the moment. Performer readiness is explained in terms of their maturity, which is a mixture of their willingness to do the task and their ability to do it (knowledge of how to do the task), as shown in Figure (d).

Performers Readiness in Situational Leadership

Situational Leadership Behavior

If the performers are both unwilling and unable to do the task, their maturity is M1 and the leader should adopt a telling management style (S1). This is the drill sergeant approach.

If the leader assesses the performers as willing to do the task but not very able (perhaps lacking some skill or knowledge), their maturity is M3, so the leader should adopt the S3 style of leadership (participating). This is a "Let me show you how" style in which the leader participates with the performers to accomplish the task.

If the performers are both willing and able to do the task (M4), the leader should adopt the delegating style (S4). This is the research lab manager's approach. The leader must only throw the task to them, and they will perform it with little supervision.

S4 is the easiest style for the leader, but it does not permit as much rest as you might think. If the team runs into difficulty with the task, the leader must step in, assess the situation, and act consequently.

Situational leadership is why leaders must be able to read individual and team personalities well. It is one of the most important remedies for helping a team toward maximum performance.


process, project setting, project team, leadership, team charter, research lab
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