Have you ever watched a PM be successful without an apparent methodology? Is this an example of good project management or lucky project management?
I would say, it can be both. An inexperienced PM can get lucky, and experience PM can be using their knowledge and wisdom to work the methodology without having to openly use all the tools. The challenge is, it’s not always about experience.
How do you know which one you are dealing with?
A lucky PM will eventually run out of luck. At best, when things go off track after the luck runs out, the lucky PM will be scrambling to figure out how to show what happened and figure out what the team will do. At worst, the lucky PM will struggle to figure out who to blame.
For sponsors and clients, you can ask a few questions along the way. A lucky PM will not be able to easily answer specific questions that start with what, when, and how. “How is it going?” is too easy to answer with “great!”, but “What are the current issues (there are always some issues)” is harder to answer if you don’t have a handle on the project.
A ‘good’ PM will have their finger on the project, they will produce the documentation you need but they will be able to answer the hard questions. Or, will be comfortable with saying they will need to check.
The challenges is it’s not about experience all the time. You can find highly experienced PMs who work by the methodology, they run successful projects, they can tell you exactly where in the Project Management Life Cycle the project is. You can also find inexperienced PMs who will successfully manage teams through challenging projects without referencing any methodology.
Why does this matter? PMs will bring to the project what they have: experience, people skills, communication skills, any combination of these. By understanding where your PM fits on the scale of lucky to good, you can understand how work with them.
For an internal PM, you know how to develop their skills. For a contractor or consulting PM, you can work with these concepts to hire the right type of PM for your project.
Have a great project week.