Imagine two teams of equally skilled builders.
They set out to build a house. Each house must look and function the same, be built with the same budget, and be completed by the same date.
Both teams have a manager, but they are not cut from the same cloth.
Manager One — The “Get it Done” Guy
One manager tells his team what to do, checks that everyone starts on time, and ensures no one leaves early. He also kicks off the house-building project with a team meeting by simply saying, “get it done.”
The second manager creates a written charter to clearly articulate the purpose of the project, identify stakeholders and their expectations, list major assumptions and constraints, and capture project requirements. He works with the team to build a detailed and sequenced project schedule, identify and evaluate risks, set quality standards for all tasks and deliverables. Finally, he evaluates if outside support is necessary and builds a detailed and scheduled project plan.
Manager 2 — The Project Manager
Of course, during the actual building of this house, team one is running around doing what they can to hit their goal. Everyone is smart, motivated, and has good intentions, but no plan for what they will do next and no formal way to share the plan in each of their heads with each other.
In other words, team one is just “making it work.”
Team two, on the other hand, is carefully monitoring each task while using their formal communications plan to share information with each other and all identified stakeholders. They are watching that their costs stay aligned with their budget while keeping an eye out for new risks. Finally, their manager focuses on removing progress-stalling impediments while protecting the project from ballooning requirements.
Finally, when the the last nail is hammered in, team one cleans up and celebrates while team two verifies that all requirements have been met, gains consensus on project completion with all stakeholders, and captures and shares all lessons learned with other house-building teams in their company.