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Michelle LaBrosse


Trusting the Process

Three key features of high-quality project management

Published: Monday, September 26, 2016 - 11:16

According to well-known business executive Don Tapscott, the technological development that will most affect the way we live in the next few decades is not the newest iPhone, or flying drones, or self-driving cars. It’s something many of us may not have heard of: blockchain technology.

Blockchain is the technology behind Bitcoin—a way of transferring assets instantly over the internet, using a complicated encryption system rather than intermediary organizations. Whereas traditionally the transfer of money across long distances has to go through banks, blockchain technology operates as a peer-to-peer network, eliminating the need for a middleman.

For Tapscott, what’s really amazing about this technology is its possibility to change the way wealth is created by giving more people easier access to financial capital. What’s really striking to us here at Cheetah Learning, however, is what blockchain technology tells us about how trust works today.

Think back to the example of transferring money, let’s say, between two people living in different countries. Until recently, most of us would only trust an intermediary organization (like Western Union) to do this, even though it would cost a lot and take a long time. As blockchain technology has gotten more advanced, however, more people are trusting complex encryption systems to mediate our financial exchanges. That’s a good thing; blockchain is nearly impossible to hack, and it allows people to exchange assets faster and more cheaply than through an intermediary. In other words, with blockchain we’re trusting a process, not a person. (Listen to Don Tapscott’s TED talk if you’re interested in learning more about how this works.)

So, what does all this have to do with project management (PM)? Good project managers do, of course, need to be good, trustworthy people. But more important, they need to be able to implement and maintain a consistent and trustworthy process for doing projects. A trustworthy process for doing projects has three features:

1. Transparency. When we hear “transparency,” we usually think about companies and organizations being “transparent” to outsiders: customers, shareholders, and the general public. Transparency is also an important principle within an organization. Transparency in project management means that the PM process has to be easy for everyone involved in the project to learn and use for launching and executing the project.

Good project managers are indispensable, but not because they’re the only people on the team who know all the pieces that make up the project. Rather, a good project manager knows how to put into motion a transparent, consistent process that all team members understand. When different people join and leave the team, stakeholders can still count on consistent, quality results because the backbone of the project is the process, not the people.

2. Repeatable results. Another key metric of a trustworthy process is its ability to produce repeatable results. Regardless of who is leading the project or assigned to the team, the PM process must create the same high-quality results from project to project and person to person. When customers and other stakeholders see different teams producing the same good results across projects, they grow to trust the organization’s processes.

3. Growth-driven initiative. Lastly, the PM process must inspire people to keep expanding their innate skills and capabilities rather than installing bureaucratic hurdles that stifle creative efforts. Just because a process is consistent doesn’t mean it has to limit team members’ creativity. For example, at Cheetah Learning we have a standard process we use for developing new courses. This process has allowed team members to create online courses in many new directions, depending on their interests and unique skillset—ranging from home improvement projects, to mastering negotiation tactics, to starting your own micro-green vertical garden.

Creating a PM process for your organization that is transparent, produces repeatable results, and allows for team members’ growth takes time. Cheetah Learning has years of experience helping project managers master the skills of process management through our classroom and online courses. Cheetah Project Management, a 20-hour online course, was developed with these fundamentals at its foundation.


About The Author

Michelle LaBrosse’s picture

Michelle LaBrosse

Michelle LaBrosse is an entrepreneurial powerhouse with a penchant for making success easy, fun, and fast. She is the founder of Cheetah Learning and a prolific blogger whose mission is to bring project management to the masses. She is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Owner/President Management program and holds engineering degrees from Syracuse University and the University of Dayton. Cheetah Learning is a virtual company with 100 employees, contractors, and licensees worldwide. More than 50,000 people have used Cheetah Learning’s project management and accelerated learning techniques.