Will the Product be a Success? Confessions of a Panicked Mom…

As I hit the final weeks (one can only hope) of this pregnancy, I realize that one of the biggest projects of my life is coming to an end. As a project manager, I can’t help but continue to analyze the risks and lessons I learned, and I realize that I may not have done as well at planning as I had hoped. I did a great job defining baby survival requirements and setting expectations for my end users (in this case family and friends), but I’m not sure that I really addressed the cultural change that this new “product” will create.

This, to me, is hard to handle since the importance of project manager as a change agent is one of my soapbox platforms. I think that as project managers we’re often technically savvy but fall short of being the evangelist for our project output. Project success is more than just making sure the requirements are met, you stayed within budget, you met your timelines, and the team functioned well together. True success is behavioral change of the organization — and I don’t care if this is a tiny project you manage for your department or a huge software upgrade that impacts the fourteen divisions of your corporation. As project managers, there’s little we manage that doesn’t require some type of organizational change to leverage the end result of our effort. We need to be the person who encourages the organization to change — motivating individuals to be excited about the prospect of adopting something new and having their work life impacted in a positive direction.

For my current project I fell short as the evangelist. My new child will be fed, clothed, and loved, but I didn’t do the best job prepping some of the other “customers” impacted by this project. My three-year-old daughter is cautiously excited but apprehensive of the changes that are about to occur. As I review what I did to prepare this project for delivery (ha!), I know I could have spent more time as the evangelist for change. More effort should’ve been planned and executed to prep my older child for her sister’s arrival.

Technically when my second daughter arrives, I’ll meet all the project goals. However, I don’t know how well the end result will be received since my audience didn’t have the influence of an evangelical change agent to excite her about how the change will improve her life.

My lesson learned this time is that being a change agent is increasingly important as a project manager. The hardest lesson will probably be post-delivery when I have a new project to acclimate my older child to the baby. I could have reduced or eliminated that post-project effort with better planning and executing the first time around. Lesson to self — next time make organizational change activities part of the tasks and activities I assign to myself on any project!

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