Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Project Management Styles

Yesterday my 4 year old son wanted candies for Dinner and i firmly gave him 'No Candies for Dinner' speech. It was a difficult task, i am sure you all will understand. He was, let us say, less willing to be onboard.
As all kids are, he tried all tricks in the book to get his point across. You of course know how this story goes...

Everyone makes some or the other decisions everyday. Be it a life changing decision say, to get married or have kids or marginally life changing ones like where to take your better half for Dinner (Which now that i think of it can also be a major decision whether it a Four Star Restaurant or a roadside eatery).
Everone has their own decision making styles that are inculcated in him/her based on their subconscious thought process, their upbringing, their own innate nature or how they have moulded themselves over the time.

Today we will talk about some of these decision styles or when used in a Project Management Environment.
These different styles are Authoritative, Experienced, Collaborative, Democratic and Laissez Faire.
Let us talk about each approch in detail and decide see which approach suits best in which situations.

Authoritative -
Authoritative Project Management style is when the Project Manager has a decision maker position and tries to coerce or enforce his decisions on the Team without understanding the project situation or team views and thoughts.
This decision making does not necessarily mean he has the experience to understand the situations and has taken a 360 view before coming to a conclusion. This merely means he is in a Authority position and people will listen to him just because of that.
This definitely can lead to many a problematic situations and i have heard enough horror stories where Authoritarian Project Managment has led the project aground because the decision makers were simply not ready to read the signs on the wall.

Long ago, I was a developer in an insurance application project where we had 20 people development team and the Client has enough experience in executing these type of projects. We were developing a policy application system for the client. Since the client had executed multiple projects of this type, he wanted to have a buy-in on some of the decisions wrt what development tools we used, how we did our code reviews and code check-ins to ensure quality, but our Project Manager at that time was jut not ready to listen and did what he thought was right, which led to situations where there was a lot of blame game played and ultimately the client ended up in not renewing the contract at the end of the term and our Executive leadership was left wondering what went wrong and why did we lose the Client.

  Experienced -
An Experienced style of Project Management is when you have been there and done that. The project manager has been in the area of project management for a long term and knows how, when and where to execute projects. He knows the nuances, the ins and outs of the project. This is a leader that i would definitely like to follow - well, to an extent.
It is definitely beneficial to the project and gives the team a sense of security when the project manager does and knows his job.

Collaboratative -
This Project Management style intersects with the next one wherein you as a project manager want to decide on something and will take the buy in of all your members as well as your stakeholders. Sometimes this is a win-in style as everyone who has a say will contribute to the decisions and once the team is involved this ensures their commitment and sincere dedication. This is less formal than the democratic style as you may not actually vote for a buyin. This works well for a large scale transformation type projects wherein you have multiple dispersed teams, areas that may be in multiple geographies.

Democratic -
This is similar to collaboration where is the project members take decisions as a team, but with everyone's buy in and voting. Here there is a risk that certain team members - the minority Team members may feel left out. So it is important for the project manager to get them onboarded on the decisions, actively and sincerely listen to their points and those team members get and stay involved. Because if those team members start to lose interest in the project and feel that they are not listened then that may not be beneficial to the project.

Laissez Faire -
Last but not the least 'Laissez Faire' - or i call it the 'Cruise Control'. This is actually a very effective style of management but only works if the team has enough experience and expertise in executing these type of projects. Here the team is self monitored and self led and sort of runs the ship on cruise control.
Basically here the team has been in these situations that the project brings forth many a times. If a project manager decides to execute the project with this style based on team experience then it actually turns out to be a positive as team feels motivated that they have a say in the decisions and a feeling that they are running the project. But this can also negatively impact the project if the team is not experienced or less exerienced in handling these type of projects, they may run the project aground. So the project Manager has to carefully decide and choose looking at the all around situation with his Team.

So all in all, the project manager has to decide how to run a project based on the surrounding internal and external conditions and situations. Sometimes it will make sense to run a project with a particular style and sometimes use a mix of these Styles. You be the judge.

Do let me know your thoughts and comments on the above article


  1. Managing a projects really requires extra effort and time. However, because we are now living in modern world, it is easy for project managers now to deal with it with the use of online project management software.

  2. Project Management in the Built Environment aims to fulfill the needs of the industry by improving the appropriate project and people. Today deal with it very easy and comfortable. Nice article and i need some more article like this. Thanks.
    Online Project Management Software

  3. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. Now various Online Project Management Software make the project management task very easy and less time consuming. If possible, as you gain expertise, please share more information. It is extremely helpful for me.

  4. Nice blog, Really this is very informative blog.
    In this time many type of scenario available in internet regarding Business Process Management system software.
    Many companies are develop a many types of software demand of client.You are discuss a our blog regarding Business Project Management. Great post! I needed some info like that to get things running better. Keep sharing such knowledgeable post. Thanks.