I just happened to meet him at airport transit lounge. We worked together in my previous company; as an internal customer, he was one of my key stakeholder in many engagements. Since, I met him after a long time, our conversation automatically shifted to those olden days – triggering a kind of casual exchange of ideas we then used to have and we always loved.. in the middle of our engaging talks, he suddenly asked:

“You had so many projects witnessing smooth transition – almost, always. How did it happened? what was the difference?” 

He was referring to the ERP and Digital transformation programs & projects with all its typical complexities like – countries, business units, region, culture, language, timezone, legal environment etc., posing different kind of challenges and opportunities at the same time. Trying to resist my immediate temptation to answer his question with something like – ‘we didn’t do different things but we did things differently’, I responded to him with another question: 

“What do you mean by difference?  We have more or less standardised approach for all projects, we do have typical goals of Cost, Time line, Scope, Quality, Service etc in all projects… Even if you look beyond project, we would have goals related to post project benefits or benefits management aspects.. Tools, methods, approaches may vary but we deal with same project processes and knowledge areas – don’t we? what kind of difference you are referring to? ” I paused for a moment and looked at him inquisitively.  

He closed his eyes with a thinking stance and then said…“ I agree projects do have a pretty well defined process landscape, but what baffles me is the outcome. If we are following such a standardised approach, why we don’t see the similar kind of results across all projects – especially the desirable results..? why there is no consistent outcome like you had in your projects..?”

“ what you mean by my projects?”

“ I mean when I see all my area projects that you were involved – all of them were ON or BEFORE TIME, ON or BELOW BUDGET, NO SCOPE CREEP,  minimum GO LIVE ISSUES characterising QUALITY DELIVERY and so on.. this was in-spite of typical as well as severe project issues that affect its outcome; what baffles me is – even in extraordinary situations where, external factors such as tripple disaster in Japan, unrelenting floods in Thailand hampered everything, your teams were still able to hit those goal with similar outcomes..; with no compromise on original intent. What made it possible – that too so consistently?” 

His voice did not hide his genuine surprise – especially having observed and witnessed them personally had made him genuinely appreciate and also believe – there should be some secret recipe behind all those outcomes.

I took a moment to think. It was not possible to answer his question without getting into detailed (and perhaps boring) discussion. I decided to just answer it conceptually so as to make it easy for him to grasp the broad idea.  While I was thinking, before I could answer he added : “ rather, tell me that one thing that you would have done consistently different , which helped you most, almost always”

“Ok.. Let me not dwell upon known things – every project handler would anyway know about them. I will tell you one thing that I always did, right from my first project and continued to do so even now. It is rather a simple guiding statement or philosophy which helped me define and set right and pragmatic direction for those projects, almost always bang-on..!”

“what was that…?” He was really curious. 

“my guiding principal was quite simple and obvious – ‘business as usual from day 1’”

“That is an obvious thing – what is so special about it?” he was bit confused but still curious. 

“ See.. any project – small or big, will have its own goals and objectives, but what really differentiates it in the field is the so called ‘stakeholder’s user experience’ – which I rather prefer to call it as ‘stakeholder’s project experience(Px)’. It is the experience, that all the stakeholders would experience throughout the project, especially more strongly at the time when the project goes live.. agree?”

“ right.. especially in projects where you have multi-stack stakeholder – from strategic to operations levels whose varied interests are to be addressed simultaneously..” he nodded his head. 

“ Exactly.. in fact, that is the real challenge in projects – meeting expectations right from Cxx level to the last operating level that is involved in the project. So, I made this basic assumption : each and every one would have their own expectations list, but the common minimum expectation will be – they should be able to run their business or operations / routine tasks comfortably with minimum hinderance and disturbances, just like they were doing it before. Put it simply, if they can run their business as usual from day one, that gives a great Px feeling for everyone involved in the project…”


“ So, during initial stages of the project itself, I tried to figure out and document what ‘business as usual’ means to each and every stake holder, at all levels..” 

”you mean ‘what it means for them to run business as usual from day 1’ right? “

“yes.. it means different things to different stake holders.. for a warehouse, if they can handle shipments and receipts like any other normal day, perhaps that defines their main ‘business as usual’ requirement. Similarly, having clocked-in the average daily turnover figures like they usually did on a normal day, defines the business as usual criteria for a sales stakeholder..”

“ got it.. this means, you collect what each stake holder means by his ‘business as usual’ and integrate into your project requirement?”

“ It is not just project requirement alone; in fact many of them may not qualify as project requirements and some even may look totally unrelated from scope perspective. They need some interpretation and ‘reading between the lines’ to decipher and convert them to project language and assign them to respective project area.  Apart from scope ramifications, these pointers may have influence on many other aspects of project phases – like testing, training, migration, support, service etc. In addition, it may also have pre and post project implications. Also, the potential impact of those expectations on cost and time line can not be overlooked.  So, internalising them all into the project execution is important and key to this approach..”

“..and you did it in all of your projects and it worked..?” 

“ yes.. I did it in all my projects.. at least to the extent the project situation permits.. If there were challenges, at least I did it with pareto’s principle – so that A and B items are addressed. Since it was aimed at delivering better project experience from the very beginning, almost all the time it worked well. Even in compromised situations, we could gain partial benefits. There are anyway, many other factors that are typically taken care in projects using the standard approach that every project manager follows.. but integrating this principle in addition, helped me to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of project delivery, without compromising on any already stated goals, instead helping deliver more than that..”

“In a way the aspects you integrated are kind of unstated but obvious goals that never seemed to be obvious by default and you made them as part of the normal project execution process..?”

“you can say so.. this one approach helped us figure out right and relevant things to be included in our project tasks primarily with stakeholder or customer view in focus. Implementing any change is always a challenge but with this approach the unpredictable side of change was made more predictable or familiar to all stakeholders – which enabled them to fix it during the project , which in turn enabled them to run their business as usual from day one…That even allowed us to take credit by highlighting them as ‘scope over delivery!’..”

“Sounds interesting.. not sure if everyone do this way always..but the idea makes sense – especially from 360 degree stakeholder point of view…This could be a very useful hint to my junior project managers team, especially moulding them with right business  mindset….!”

“May be intuitively some of this aspects already included – especially in case of experienced project managers, but not sure if it always goes in a structured way or as a structured approach. However, I always took a bold approach to include this as part of project charter..”

“You mean to include it as a written goal in project charter – ‘business as usual from day 1’, right? I remember those slides from your kick-off meetings..”

“Yes.. this was always mentioned as one of the go live goal, along with other key goals like project cost, timeline, project scope, quality etc. Interestingly, the key stakeholder for that goal was myself – the project manager, because it should be the target and aspiration of the project manager to deliver such outcome, even when it is not spelled out as an expectation from any other stakeholder.. ! This, in a way is the commitment as well as measurement for the project manager..”

He smiled and said “ that sounds like,  proactively taking responsibility…”

I returned his smile…“some others may call it stupidity as well..! Anyway, I did it because I was passionate about it; about project, it’s expected outcome, it’s benefits to business and the ‘project experience (Px) factor’ that makes the stakeholder feel the effect of its outcome..”

“ nice idea.. by the way, my flight announcement was just made.. I have to take leave for now.. We should catch up more often and discuss more to see what else you have in your bag of tricks..As always it was a delightful discussion this evening…”

“ haha.. I wouldn’t say bag of tricks. Sure, there will be many who would be practicing such tricks – May be in a tacit way. Yes, any time we could discuss and exchange ideas..I could also learn from your leadership experience… you have my contact and just ping me anytime..!”

His gate again called his name and made a last call announcement. He got up, gave me a warm handshake, pulled his luggage and almost ran towards his departure gate. I downed the last sip of my beer and started walking towards my gate.

– Nagesha Mysore


#business_as_usual, #project_thoughts, #simple_Ideas

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ನಾಗೇಶ ಮೈಸೂರು

ಜೀವನದ ಸುತ್ತಾಟ ಎಲ್ಲೆಲ್ಲಿಗೊ ದಾಟಿಸಿ, ಅರಿವಿನೆಲ್ಲೆ ಮೀರಿಸಿ ಅಲೆದಾಡಿಸತೊಡಗಿ ಇದ್ದಕ್ಕಿದ್ದಂತೆ ಮೂಲದ ಬೇರಿನ ತುಡಿತಗಳೆಲ್ಲ ಏನೆಲ್ಲಾ ತರದ ಸ್ವಗತಗಳಾಗಿ ಕಂಗಾಲಾಗಿಸತೊಡಗಿದಾಗ, ಅದರ ಹೊರ ಹರಿವಿಗೆ ಇದ್ದಕ್ಕಿದ್ದಂತೆ ತೆರೆದುಕೊಂಡ ಹಠಾತ್ ದ್ವಾರವೆ - ಈ 'ಮನದಿಂಗಿತಗಳ ಸ್ವಗತ' ಬ್ಲಾಗ್. ಹುಟ್ಟಿಕೊಂಡ ಹೊತ್ತಿನಿಂದ ಇನ್ನಿಲ್ಲದ ಕಕ್ಕುಲತೆಯಿಂದ ಅಪ್ಪಿಕೊಂಡ ಈ ಮನ ವೈಖರಿಯ ಪ್ರಕಟ ರೂಪ, 'ನನ್ನ ಪಾಡಿಗೆ ನಾನು' ಎಂದು ಹಾಡಿಕೊಂಡು ಹೋಗುವಾಗಲೆ ಅಲ್ಲಿಲ್ಲಿ ಸಿಕ್ಕ ಅವರಿವರನ್ನು ತಟ್ಟಿ, ಕೈ ಕುಲುಕಿ ಸಲಾಮು ಹೊಡೆದು ಮುಂದಕ್ಕೆ ನಡೆಯುತ್ತಲಿದೆ, ಇಲ್ಲಿಯವರೆಗೆ. ಬಾಲಿಶವಾಗಿ ಆರಂಭವಾದ ತುಡಿತ, ಸ್ವಗತಗಳು ತುಸು ಶಿಸ್ತಿನ ದಿರುಸುಟ್ಟು ಠಾಕುಠೀಕಾಗಿದ್ದಲ್ಲದೆ ನಡಿಗೆಯುದ್ದಕ್ಕು ಕಲಿಕೆಯ ವಿಸ್ಮಯವನ್ನು ಉಣಬಡಿಸುತ್ತ ಸಾಗಿವೆ. ಇದು 'ನನ್ನ ಮೈದಾನ, ನನ್ನ ಕುದುರೆ' ಎನ್ನುವ ಧೈರ್ಯಕ್ಕೊ ಏನೊ - ಬರೆಯಬೇಕೆನಿಸಿದ್ದೆಲ್ಲವನ್ನು ಬರೆದಿಟ್ಟು ನಿರಾಳವಾಗುವ ಪರಿ, ಇನ್ನು ಕೈ ಹಿಡಿದು ಮುನ್ನಡೆಸುತ್ತಲೆ ಇದೆ, ವಿವಿಧ ಪ್ರಯೋಗಗಳೊಡನೆ. ಮಂಕುತಿಮ್ಮನ ಪದ್ಯಗಳ ಮೇಲೆ ಟಿಪ್ಪಣಿ ಬರೆದುಕೊಳ್ಳುವಷ್ಟು ಹುಮ್ಮಸ್ಸು ಬರಲು ಬಹುಶ ಈ ಬ್ಲಾಗಿತ್ತ ಧೈರ್ಯವೆ ಕಾರಣವೇನೊ.. ಕೊನೆಯವರೆಗು ಜತೆಗುಳಿಯುವುದೂ ಕೂಡ ಬಹುಶಃ ಇದೇ ಏನೊ.. ಅಕಸ್ಮಾತಾಗಿ ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಇಣಿಕಿದರೆ - ಒಪ್ಪುಗಳ ಬಗೆ ಹೇಳದಿದ್ದರೂ ಸರಿಯೆ, ತಪ್ಪೇನಾದರು ಕಂಡರೆ ಒಂದು ಸಣ್ಣ ಸುಳಿವಿತ್ತು ಹೋಗಿ, ತಿದ್ದಿಕೊಂಡು ಕಲಿತು ಮುನ್ನಡೆಯಲು ಸಹಾಯಕವಾದೀತು, ಈ ನಿರಂತರ ಕಲಿಕೆಯ ಜೀವನ ಯಾತ್ರೆಯಲಿ 😊 ಪ್ರೀತಿಯಿಂದ, - ನಾಗೇಶ ಮೈಸೂರು

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