Use Project Management


Management is usually viewed as continuous process that lasts without a break for the whole of your organization’s life. But some jobs are clearly projects; they do a specific job, have a distinct beginning and end and a fixed duration. When the job is done, the project is finished.

 

People have developed special approaches to project management. A project manager often has overall control and can have very wide-ranging responsibilities. The project team does not follow the usual ‘line of authority,’ but is seconded from line functions. This gives a matrix structure where people have divided responsibilities. The control of projects is made easier by dividing them into phases running from conceptual design through to termination. There are special methods for planning projects.

 

Managers have increasingly realized that they can use these methods in their everyday work. You probably find that a lot of your work is not continuous, but consists of a series of projects. Consultants work for different clients, software houses work on different packages, marketing departments run a series of promotions.

 

Project management can bring a lot of advantages to your work. It gives the expected times for some key activities, and the computer automatically prints schedules for activities and all resources. More generally, project teams have the benefits of:

  • Using management methods that recognize the nature of projects;
  • Solving problems quickly, as the right people are assembled to concentrate on a solution.
  • Spreading expertise around the organization, as team members move on to new projects and share their experiences;
  • Using resources efficiently, as they are released to other projects when not needed;
  • Tightly controlling operations, with constant feedback on progress.

 This does not mean, of course, that project management is better than continuous management. But project management does give an additional set of management tools that you might find useful.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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Public Management


There will be absolutely changed conditions under which public managers will operate in the future, some of the areas of knowledge, skills, and attitudes that they will be required to possess, and some of the pathways public managers might explore in order to move toward the future.

There will be an extraordinary explosion of new knowledge and technological innovations, especially in the areas of information sciences, genetics, materials, instrumentation, automation, and space. Our public managers will wade into an age of extraordinary technological change and have to accommodate themselves and the institutions to dramatically different bodies of knowledge and technological innovations.

They will not only have to cope with and employ their expanded knowledge and technological capacity, they will have to learn to use this knowledge and technological capacity for the benefit of society. In the technological world of the future, there will be even greater temptations for them to be captured by technology, to fall prey to “technological imperative,” and to allow rational technical interests to supercede human concerns and those of values. Finding ways of employing advanced technologies so as to enhance rather than restrict their capacity for leadership, creativity, and personal responsibility will be a serious challenge.

In the future, knowledge and information will prevail. And if information is power, then those who have information will indeed have power. But who will have information? Information will be increasingly centralized, controlled and marketed through traditional economic and political processes. It will be widely distributed throughout society, so that increasing rather than decreasing numbers of people will have information and in turn have power. Such a possibility will lead to “the twilight of hierarchy,” to be inevitable.

Combining these issues, we can safely predict that the knowledge or information that our public managers will be able to access will be tremendous, to the point that the quantity of information will no longer be the most important issue. Rather the key question will be how to organize this information for human purposes. This means that public administration will have to learn to organize information in a fashion that will facilitate the pursuit of important public purposes. The great challenge will be to organize information so that we can enhance the process of democratic decision-making, of consensus building, and of dialogue and deliberation.

There’s no question that we will have the capacity to organize information for dramatic new public purposes, to restructure our structures of governance in dramatic ways. But what will our choices be? Imagine a computer in Islamabad that could reach out into every home, so that on any occasion that a major policy decision was required, an appropriate message could go out to all the citizens and their answers could guide public policy – a process that would approximate pure democracy.

The globalization of society is obvious today, though in twenty-five years or so, we may experience trans-globalization or beyond, as the frontiers of the oceans and space are extended even further. Already we are thinking more in global terms. However, our managers are still thinking in terms of traditional institutions operating in a new global context. They are not yet asking how they reconfigure businesses and governments so as to carry out a global vision. How do they encourage businesses and governments to assume global responsibilities rather than those defined in terms of one’s own self interest? For example, how can developing countries move toward sustainable development and environmental justice on a global basis?

One obvious casualty of the global age may be the nation-state, replaced not necessarily by a new global or interplanetary federation but possibly by new forms of governance far beyond those we can imagine today.

In future our public administration should know the importance of “responsibilities” rather than “functions” of government. While a large part of the current worldwide debate over privatization or outsourcing speaks to the question of which “functions” belong where, the new debate will necessarily focus on public responsibilities and speak in a language of ethics, citizenship and the public interest.

In reinvented government or the new public management, customers shall replace citizens – or, to put it differently, the integrative role of citizenship has been reduced to the narrow self-interest of customership – in government as in business.

Indeed, we think the job of all public managers will increasingly be more than directing or managing our public organizations. It will be not merely “steering” or “rowing” but “building the boat.” The new public manager will construct networks of varied interests that can work effectively to solve public problems. In doing so, it will be the job of the public administrator to promote pluralism, to create opportunities for constructive dissent, to preserve that which is distinctive about individuals and groups, and to provide an opportunity for diverse groups to share in establishing future directions for the community. The administrator will play a substantial role in diminishing polarization, teaching diversity and respect, building coalitions, resolving disputes, negotiating and mediating. The work of the top public managers will thus be – to build community.

There are two broad areas that public managers will need to explore in order to fashion a response to the trends. These emerging trends will turn public management both “inside-out” and “upside-down.” Public management will be turned “inside-out” as the largely internal focus of management in the past is replaced by an external focus, specifically a focus on citizens and citizenship. Public management will be turned “upside-down” as the traditional top-down orientation of the field is replaced – not necessarily by a bottom-up approach, but by a system of shared leadership.

In the past public administration has been largely focused on what happens within the public bureaucracy. The future will require that it dramatically refocus its attention on the world outside, particularly the world of citizens and citizenship.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

The Ethos of Great Managers


Smart individual performers keep getting moved into manager positions without the slightest idea of what the manager role is, let alone the ability to play it. They are sent to leadership development courses, but they come back more impressed with their mini-executive status than with the day-to-day challenges of being a good manager.

Conventional wisdom tells us that the manager role is no longer very important. Apparently managers are now an impediment to speed, flexibility, and agility. Today’s agile companies can no longer afford to employ armies of managers to shuffle papers, sign approvals, and monitor performance. They need self-reliant, self motivated, self-directed work teams. No wonder managers are first against the wall when the reengineering revolution came.

Every manager should be a leader. He must seize opportunity, using his smarts and impatience to exert his will over a fickle world. In this world, the staid little manager is a misfit. It is too quick for him, too exciting, too dangerous. He had better stay out of the way. He might get hurt.

Today’s business pressures are more intense. Companies need self-reliant employees and aggressive leaders. But all this does not diminish the importance of managers. In turbulent times the manager is more important than ever because managers play a vital and distinct role, a role that charismatic leaders and self-directed teams are incapable of playing. The manager role is to reach inside each employee and release his unique talents into performance. This role is best played one employee at a time: one manager asking questions of, listening to, and working with one employee. Multiplied a thousand fold, this one-by-one role is the company’s power supply. In times of great change it is this role that makes the company robust enough to stay focused when needed, yet robust enough to flex without breaking.

Thus the manager role is the catalyst role. As with all catalysts, the manager’s function is to speed up the reaction between two substances, thus creating the desired end product. Specifically the manager creates performance in each employee by speeding up the reaction between the employee’s talents and the company’s goals, and between the employee’s talents and the customers’ needs. When hundreds of managers play this role well, the company becomes strong.

In today’s slimmed-down business world, most of these managers also shoulder other responsibilities. They are expected to be subject matter experts, individual superstars, and sometimes leaders in their own right. These are important roles, which great managers execute with varying styles and degrees of success. But when it comes to the manager aspect of the responsibilities, great managers all excel at this catalyst role.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Psychic Profile of a Healthy Company


Just like a fine athlete is more than someone who isn’t sick, a healthy company embodies people and practices that combine and coordinate to produce an exceptional performance.

Healthy companies all possess and emanate a certain vitality and spirit  This spirit is not a religious fervor or a mindless cheerleader enthusiaism but a deep feeling of shared humanistic values at the core of the company. These values are the glue that binds healthy, successful employees with healthy, productive workplaces.  They influence the way people act and think at all levels of the company and form the foundation for corporate policies and practices. They define roles and responsibilities and dictate how business decisions are made. These principles are expressed and applied at every turn of the business, from receptionists and loading dock workers, through managers and executives, and into the board of directors.

These values are perpetually interacting, expanding, and contracting like a living entity. Each value depends on and determines the health of the others; sickness or disease that undermines one weakens all; robustness in one value strengthens all. The values at at the heart of the healthy company enable it to continuously grow, evolve, and renew itself, reinforcing what is productive and positive and sloughing off the unhealthy and unworkable. In short, the causes and effects between values, people, and companies are not linear but circular. Values are the center of the enterprise; they circulate through every cell and artery of a company, and a company and itsemployees either reinforce healthy values or bring about their decline.

Healthy company values bind people to their organizations. By creating a common language and appealing to principles of dignity, commitment, and growth, these values help to create an identity that connects thousands of people around a shared mission. Suddenly, the traditional hard values of business success and the nontraditional soft values of human development merge into one dream.

This convergence generates a synergy, producing something greater than the sum of their parts–a vital business that lives and breathes a humanistic philosophy, that treats people as more than profiot producers, views relationships as more than simply financial contracts, and regards the workplace as more than a setting for business. It is a holistic environment, one that nurtures, stretches, and empowers people. The result is an organizatipn that optimizes people, principles, and profits.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com