Innovation is a core trait of successful project teams. PMP®s must be able to quickly come up with new ideas on ways to address difficult problems, often while relying on others outside the project office—sponsors, end users, internal and external business partners—for help in implementing the proposed solutions.
But brainstorming innovative ideas isn’t where most project offices run into trouble. Creativity abounds among PMP®s and it’s common for teams to develop several potential options once they start working on a problem. Instead, great project ideas may be undercut because a few key pieces of the puzzle are missing. If your team finds it difficult to get great ideas to stick, see if one of these classic roadblocks is the reason your efforts are falling flat.
1 – The necessary resources just aren’t there. Let’s face it, nearly every project team could find a slew of new ways to tackle problems and streamline operations if only whatever they needed (staffing, funding, time, or expertise) was freely available to them. That isn’t how companies operate, though, and a lean resource pool is perhaps the most common challenge Project Teams face in turning their great ideas into action. If the organization can’t or won’t put the necessary supplies at the project team’s disposal, then even the most brilliant idea will have serious trouble reaching fruition.
2 – The organization doesn’t buy into the idea. Even if the necessary funding is approved or the required staffing levels are met, the project office could still find itself facing an uphill battle if key supporters aren’t on board. A lack of executive buy-in can spell disaster for great ideas, as can hesitation on the part of internal departments whose participation is vital to the idea’s successful implementation. It may take some legwork, but unless everyone is on board, it will be nearly impossible to turn a great idea into reality.
3 – The team doesn’t believe the idea will work. There are times when pushback around a new idea comes from inside the project office. Team members may not understand how the proposed changes will impact them or they may not agree that the idea is feasible or even necessary. Remember, PMP®s are skilled change agents but human nature could still make them hesitant to modify their workflows or develop new habits. Without a cohesive approach that brings the entire Project Team together around an idea, any changes that are implemented may not reach their full potential.
4 – The research behind the idea is flawed. Innovative solutions must be based on accurate data and a solid understanding of not only how processes are normally executed, but also how the proposed changes will impact connected workflows. An idea intended to address delays in project activities or to reduce inefficiencies in resource sharing across multiple sub-teams, for example, could spark problems unless every associated touch point—the tasks, the people, and the processes—is considered and examined. If the team isn’t diligent in gathering a complete body of knowledge about what is and isn’t working, along with anticipating where additional consequences could appear, their idea is sure to run into difficulties.
5 – The team hasn’t built a review phase into the idea’s implementation. Just as each project should be carefully explored after completion, a review step must also be included as part of every great idea. This gives PMP®s an opportunity to step back and ensure the idea was implemented as expected. It’s also a good time to address any lingering questions or concerns that could be hampering progress, while also confirming that old practices haven’t crept back into the fray.