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Project Management Workshop ELIA, Paris, March 2008 Leonid Glazychev CEO, Logrus International Corporation © , Logrus International Corp. Curb Your Conformance: Management with a Local Flavor
Is Sterile PM a Good Thing? Has become a de-facto standard around the world Especially popular with big corporations Is the “least democratic” thing around: Dress code relaxed or fading away gradually Equal-opportunity employment as a fact of life National cuisines flourishing in corporate canteens Cultural flavors are obviously there, but are supposed to be suppressed and ignored (We are NOT talking about being impolite, ethical violations, etc.) © , Logrus International Corp.
How It Starts… Client PMs sometimes tend to be formal and [slightly] paranoid The less qualified the PM is, the more formal project communication & work becomes Micromanagement Minute [unnecessary] level of detail required Plenty of redundant statistics collected Endless confirmations & extra-urgent messages Demands for forecasts that are impossible to make Tireless duplication of information Scandals/escalations following every minor issue… © , Logrus International Corp.
Vendor PMs sometimes tend to be [severely] overworked or covering for their colleagues The more stressed the PM is, the more likely various “small” goofs and glitches become Delayed notices/warnings Missing files or files in wrong encoding Missed checks / verifications Incomplete hand-backs Unresponsive behavior … How It Starts… (continued) © , Logrus International Corp.
How It Ends… Same Cultural Space Both sides know what the “right thing” supposed to be done is, and their concepts of it are similar The problems are discussed in a more or less civilized manner, sometimes with escalations Corrections are introduced to the process and/or guidelines, apologies are sent, and everybody feels happier… Different Cultural Space Both sides know what the “right thing” supposed to be done is, but their concepts of it are different* Problems are discussed/escalated (levels of heat vary), but each side is convinced it’s right (and the other one wrong)* Formal apologies are sent, and corrections are introduced, but they are dissonant, and do not always help… © , Logrus International Corp.
Major Challenge We have to understand what goes on and react adequately, neither taking anything at face value, nor assuming that the so-called “standard” interpretation would work*… EXAMPLE A big hand-back is supposed to be made by the vendor by Friday, COB. But there is a technical problem with the files (not vendor-related), and the hand-back can’t be completed on time Let’s see how PMs will handle this in different parts of the world… (No Real Characters!!!) © , Logrus International Corp.
Version 1 – Eastern Europe Becomes aware on Friday, estimates the volume as doable on the weekend Asks several trusted people to work over the weekend and fix everything Starts uploading the files that are ready on Friday evening, and sends an e- mail saying that the hand-back is being returned Assumes that Friday evening and Monday morning make no big difference. Feels confident because problems were not created on his end anyway… Does not notify his counterpart that only a partial hand-back is being sent. Neither sends any forecasts for hand-back completion, seeing no point in it (see above) The Client PM in the US (7 to 11-hour time difference) gets a partial hand- back in the morning and starts sending urgent requests, but everyone has gone home for the day in Eastern Europe… The US PM is pissed off: There is a build due. No files, and no forecast… On Monday morning the remaining files are handed back in perfect order The EE PM does not understand what this fuss is all about – his team has heroically fixed bugs originating at the client side, and he expects a Thank You message… © , Logrus International Corp.
Version 2 – Northern Europe PM becomes aware of the issue on Wednesday Sends an to the Client saying that timely hand-back is impossible, and they will estimate rework time by the end of the week. Forecasts a one- week delay (choosing the most pessimistic estimate available up front) The US PM dreads the idea of a 1-week delay, considers the rework not serious enough, and immediately asks to do it faster On Friday evening the work is still in full swing, and the total volume of rework is not 100% clear yet (even though one can make an estimate) The Vendor PM does not consider the project condition life-threatening, and thinks that the project itself is not worth working through the weekend, especially as he’s got a date on Saturday. Sends the saying that they are working, and the final estimate is going to be produced on Monday. The US PM is pissed off: There is a build due. No files, and no forecast… On Monday the forecast is finally made, which almost coincides with work completion. On Tuesday afternoon all files are handed back in perfect order The NE PM does not understand what this fuss is all about – his team was doing everything by the book, perfectly communicating progress, and working diligently… © , Logrus International Corp.
Version 3 – Developing Country The PM knows pretty well that they are lagging behind the schedule anyhow On Friday evening discovers that there is one more problem on the radar screen, and happily sends an to the Client saying that timely hand- back is impossible due to technical difficulties. No forecasts are mentioned Asks several trusted people to work over the weekend and complete/fix everything The Client PM in the US (12 to 14-hour time difference) is desperate and starts sending urgent queries, but everyone has gone home in xxx… On Monday evening the work is still in full swing, and the completion date is not 100% clear yet… The Vendor PM sends an SMS to the Client PM saying that their Internet line was damaged by yesteryear’s tsunami in the Philippines, and disappears… His team is working around the clock… The US PM is pissed off: There is a build due. No files, and no forecast… On Wednesday evening everything is finally done, and files are handed back The Vendor PM does not understand what this fuss is all about – his team has finally done it with a minimal delay despite complete lack of resources… © , Logrus International Corp.
Calm Analysis Emotions apart, the Client PM gets three totally different lines of behavior and might go crazy… IF there was a little bit more slack in the schedule, the tensions would not rise so high… Each team, while displaying some features of national character, has done something EXCEPTIONALLY WELL! In most cases, on a “neutral” scale each downside is compensated by an upside, and the other way round Client PMs are not always right*… © , Logrus International Corp.
Checks and Balances “Downside”“Upside” Afraid / embarrassed of reporting delaysMore self-reliance and dedication Too much self-reliance (wrong decisions made unilaterally) Minimizes support. Typically means readiness to do something extra (self- sacrificing) Not too communicativeDoing it calmly and professionally, without “white noise” or instigating passions Emotional (not rude or impolite)Sincere! Limited self-sacrificingOrganized & meticulous © , Logrus International Corp.
What Can Be Done? Acknowledging that it’s a two-way street! Not being embarrassed to talk about local flavor Emphasizing upsides and employing them efficiently Educating the customer on these specifics (not ignoring major rules, of course)* Educating your own team on major discrepancies between their “favorite” and worldwide approaches* Higher-level Client-side managers tend to be more knowledgeable of these issues Turn to them in case understanding lacks at lower levels © , Logrus International Corp.
Thank you so much for your patience and participation! Leonid Glazychev CEO, Logrus International Corporation © , Logrus International Corp. ELIA, Paris, March 2008
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