A recent post from Quantum Shifting describes the issues between peoples behaviour and the system they work in. As a "systems person," I'm on both sides of the discussion on how to increase the Probability of Project Success. On the business side, the people drive the success process? On the project side, I'd suggest from experience, processes drive success. Both are needed, both must be working correctly, both have contribution to increasing the Probability of Project Success.
So when it comes to improving project performance where to we start. I'd of course start with the Five Principles, Practices, and Processes. These are Immutable, independent of the business or technical domain - as far as they have been tested in every business and technical domain I've worked in. And that is quite a few. From pure commercial software products to embedded weapons systems control. I haven't worked in e-commerce or web type development (Twitter, FB, Google), so the Practices and Processes may not be applicable, but I'd be shocked that the Principles are different in any project domain.
So had can we connect the dots between the people side and the process side?
- Process is King. Actually the Right process is King. The wrong process can't be implemented by anyone and that is the start of the people problem.
- The right people have to be there for the right process to work. Assign people who can't follow the process, can't contribute to the improvement of the process, or simply state I'm not going to do this, and the process will fail.
- Without process the ability to deliver projects is limited by the ability of the people to coordinate, plan, and execute the work they need to do. Get 4 developers and a customer in the room together and you need very little process. Maybe even no process. You can be a Mob Programmer. Everyone starts working, they have direct connections to each other. What a wonderful work it is. Have 12 major subcontractors, each with subcontractors, spread across the country or even across the world, build a flying machine going to Mars - that's a different story.
- Starting with people or starting with process is a matter of the scale of the problem. See below.
It is likely these two examples (4 people in the same room - 1,000's around the world) are at either end of the spectrum of projects, processes, and people. This spectrum has many other points in the middle. So here's a paradigm for the scale and the scalability of project work in software development.