6 management mistakes to avert with Lean

If you are a project manager, you know that ensuring the stable flow of the separate tasks in a project is central to its success. As a result of ineffective management strategies or bad planning, only 31% of organizations are likely to deliver projects on time. According to KPMG, organizations that align their PMO to strategy, report 27 percent more projects completed successfully. So how do we get there?

To be on the winning side of the project management game, you should try to refrain from as many missteps as possible. In order to do that, keep reading and find out the 6 most significant project management mistakes that can be prevented by applying Lean principles.

1. Micromanagement

Being a good leader means pushing your company forward, solving problems, coming up with new ideas but also trusting your team members with specific tasks.

Many project managers believe that they need to keep a close eye on their team in order everything to be perfect. This type of behavior will make your team members mistrust you and believe that there is a lack of shared purpose. After all, trust is the foundation of leadership and not having it in your team is a surefire way to project failure.

Instead of being the manager who takes notice of every single detail, be their leader, the person who encourages them to move forward. If you want your projects to be successful, you should focus on embracing Lean leadership where you don’t micromanage your team members but instead, inspire them to think outside of the box. This way, each one of your colleagues, will start generating ideas and will take every single project that they are working on, as their personal responsibility.

2. Not Breaking Down Huge Projects

As a project manager, sometimes, you have to work on very big projects. This, of course, requires more responsibility and time management skills. A big mistake that project managers often make is not breaking down large projects into smaller pieces. Imagine having a huge initiative that has many angles to be approached from. Do you think that not following a specific structure and randomly working on parts of the project will work? I seriously doubt it.

A much better solution would be to start breaking down work with Kanban. You can create a systemized process and visualize the progress of every single one of the smaller tasks. This will contribute to your levels of productivity as well.

Time Tracking

3. Poor Project Planning

The process of planning is something that needs to be taken very seriously. You might be thinking that setting up strict timeframes and deadlines for completing a project is of crucial importance to the overall productivity. However, I would suggest you think about that twice.

Read more about How to plan a project?

When estimating based on the individual work items, you basically create a wasteful activity, because you never know how much time certain tasks will take. Trying to be a fortune teller will only set unrealistic expectations for your team members and will put a huge responsibility on your shoulders. However, customers always demand some kind of planning, so you need to learn how to forecast realistically instead of estimating based on what we wish to happen. Nobody can predict the future, so overburdening yourself with different deadlines might be catastrophic for your project.

Project Planning

Of course, project managers need to plan their work before starting it, so a great solution lies within changing their planning strategy from deterministic to probabilistic. This is exactly what companies such as Toyota used in order to shift their manufacturing processes from “just-in-case” to “just-in-time” and thus the Kanban planning approach came into existence.

4. Poor Team Collaboration

Another major mistake that project managers make is in the form of not collaborating with their team effectively. Failing to do that creates a chaotic environment where tasks are not being tracked and nobody knows what the other person is working on. This can lead to the failure of entire campaigns just because your team lacks synchronization and a structured roadmap for achieving a specific goal.

Team Collaboration

A way to correct that issue is by using the power of feedback, which is central to the Lean management methodology. Implementing it will give you the chance to keep everyone on track but also form better relationships with the people on your team. Of course, not everyone will be comfortable with negative feedback but giving it in the right way will help your colleagues evolve and will contribute to the creation of a friendly environment. After all, this is of great importance for successfully completing every type of work.

Providing feedback on a regular basis will also help you create an environment of continuous improvement. Giving helpful tips to your team members on where they could improve, but also praising them when they’ve done a good job, will create a system for you where every next project becomes more and more successful.

5. Not Focusing on Customer Value

Sometimes project managers might get into a position where they focus on making sure that there is something completed rather than on the actual customer value that derives from it. All projects are initiated to prepare a product or service for a client. Therefore, there might be customers that get the product or service that they have been promised, however, if they are not satisfied with it, it’s the same thing as not receiving it at all.

In Lean management, value is everything that the customer is willing to pay for. There are 7 types of wasteful activities that you need to focus on eliminating. Once this is done, you will be on the right track for delivering projects and get recognition not only by your management team but by your customers as well.

6. Lacking Prioritization and WIP Limits

Last but not least, a huge mistake that project managers make is not prioritizing. If you want your projects to run smoothly and satisfy customer needs, you need to be able to create a process where you separate the most important tasks from the less important. Prioritizing tasks happens easily with Kanban and doing it, will create a structured workflow as you will know exactly where you need to focus most of your attention at a given time.

Setting Priorities

Often project managers might get into multitasking, which has the potential to reduce their productivity. A solution to this can be found in setting up WIP Limits, which will keep a steady workflow by eliminating any potential overburdening of your team members. As a result, they will be able to process different tasks much faster and increase the probability of completing a project within a certain period.

Applying Lean to Project Management

In summary, project management pitfalls can easily happen in every organization and there is nobody insured against them. Those mistakes can sometimes be crucial and lead entire campaigns to ultimate failure. However, there is no need to despair. All you have to do is educate yourself on certain principles and start implementing Lean project management within your projects.

Once you do this, I can promise you, that you will see a significant improvement in the successful completion of your projects, the overall value that your customers receive and therefore their positive feedback regarding your product or service.  

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