Understanding the four types of projects can help you to predict problems and put measures in place to avoid them. And the leadership styles needed to deliver organisational change are closely related to each type of project.
1. Walking in the Fog
If you don’t know what you want or how to achieve it you are likely to have a "walking in the fog" type of project.
Typically, the organisation is attempting to do something different. Something that hasn’t been attempted before. These types of projects are started because of a change in circumstances.
For instance, introducing a new business strategy in response to political, legislative, or socio-economic organisational change. As such, this type of change project calls for certain leadership styles: tight control, strong communication, and innovation and creativity.
These projects require teamwork and a desire to work and learn together.
Walking in the fog projects should proceed cautiously. If not, you risk delivering nothing of benefit to the organisation.
2. Making a Movie
If you know how but not what you need to do you, have a "making a movie" type of project.
In this situation, your stakeholders are very certain about how the project should proceed but not what needs to be done.
Your organisation has built up significant expertise and capability in the area the project will tackle and has many people committed to the methods needed to deliver the change.
During the early stages of this type of project you need to focus your attention on solving the what―writing a business case―not the how.
That is, mobilise problem solvers from within your organisation or use external sources to develop and generate ideas. Once you have your script, the movie will make itself.
"Vision is the art of seeing things invisible." – Jonathan Swift
Making a movie type of project evokes positive emotions and a sense of purpose and openness.
3. Going On a Quest
In contrast, the "going on a quest" type of project is where you and most of your stakeholders are very sure of what should be done. However, you are unsure how you will achieve it.
Long-range purposes keep you from being frustrated by short-term failures.
If you are involved in this type of project you will no doubt feel challenged, excited, or single-minded. Projects involving information technology tend to fall into this category and are often criticised for cost overruns, being late, or not delivering the expected benefits.
Consequently, your leadership style needs to balance strict control of time and cost with the freedom to innovate and solve problems.
Above all you need a team of self-motivated people―“knights”―who work tirelessly to seek out and then deliver the solution.
4. Painting By Numbers
The "painting by numbers" type of project is where you always want to be by the time you start investing lots of time and money in the change project.
You and most of your stakeholders are sure of what to do and how it is to be done. These change projects tend to have clear goals plus a clearly defined set of activities needed to complete the project.
"A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral." – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
What’s more, this type of project is characterised by the organisation’s project management maturity; written methods, procedures, and systems describing what and how things are done are evident.
By the time you start a painting by numbers project you will feel confident. You will probably want to demonstrate your competence by delivering the project early or under budget.
If you reach this stage of your project and your gut feeling tells you something different, take note. You really don’t want to commit serious resources to it until you are very clear about the what and how.
On a final note, recognise that the level of risk varies depending on the types of projects you embark on. It should be your objective to manage project risk as the change project proceeds.
Also, projects can change from quest, movie, or fog to painting by numbers as they progress through the project lifecycle.
Use your head to interpret how well things are doing and adapt your leadership styles to best suit the type of project you’re leading.
This post is by Martin Webster at leadershipthoughts.com. Martin Webster is an engineer, IT professional, introvert, occasional artist, people leader, and geek. Leadershipthoughts.com is dedicated to helping leaders learn the skills of leading, share their own experiences, and promote leadership development.
This article is by Martin Webster from leadershipthoughts.com.