Category: Welcome

Performance metrix

“We cannot measure it. Our project is too technical” or “too specific” or too something else can unfortunately be heard in some development management circles.

Scientists say “if you cannot measure it, it does not exist”. Development management is about change (positive, preferably). So if we cannot measure change, it does not exist. Now, let’s go with that to the Project’s Board or, even better, the project’s beneficiaries. Yes, right…

Developing, agreeing on and monitoring project’s indicators is not an easy fix. It is a necessity. All stakeholders need to know and see the progress towards the objective of the project. It is true that in development projects we deal with institutions (in the sense of an established law or practice) and concepts, such as governance, corruption, transparency, accountability, empowerment, access to justice. Thanks to extensive research over the last two decades+ and due to efforts of organisations such as the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, Freedom House, Council of Europe (through its Commission for the Efficiency of Justice), OECD and many more it is possible to measure. These institutions are no longer abstract concepts they have dimensions we can grasp, measure and report on. Let’s look at the six dimensions of the Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) of the World Bank:

  1. Voice and Accountability: measuring political, civil and human rights;
  2. Political Stability and Absence of Violence: measuring the likelihood of violent threats to, or changes in, government, including terrorism;
  3. Government Effectiveness: measuring the competence of the bureaucracy and the quality of public service delivery;
  4. Regulatory Quality: measuring the incidence of market-unfriendly policies;
  5. Rule of Law: measuring the quality of contract enforcement, the police, and the courts as well as the likelihood of crimes and violence;
  6. Control of Corruption: measuring the exercise of public power for private gain, including both petty and grand corruption and state capture.

When you start to develop a project, I learned how important it is to give to the performance metrix the time and effort it deserves. My experience helped me put together a couple of road signs in this respect, which I share below:

a. Identifying, selecting and agreeing on project progress indicators is a collective exercise and should be done in a participatory and inclusive way.

b. Discharge things you cannot measure or, if you are keen on them,  double check on them during the inception phase of the project.

c. Use data already available from credible sources. Creating your own set of data and measurement tools is costly and time consuming.

d. If there is no data and the project absolutely needs a tailor made measuring stick, make sure to budget for it.

e. For measurements designed specifically for the project, make sure you take the measures (right) at the project start. It will give you a reliable baseline.

f. Regularly monitor progress for signs of trouble or delays. Use your performance metrix as a tool. It can help you “measure twice, cut – once”, as illustrated by the old adage, or “measure constantly, optimize continuously”, as the context of your project demands it.

g. And perhaps, the most important the performance metrix serves the achievement of the project objective (and not interests or circumstances).

Post inspired by: “Myths and Realities of Governance and Corruption”, by Daniel Kaufmann World Bank, https://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTWBIGOVANTCOR/Resources/2-1_Governance_and_Corruption_Kaufmann.pdf

“Kaufmann, Daniel; Kraay, Aart; Mastruzzi, Massimo. 2007. Measuring Corruption : Myths and Realities. Africa Region Findings & Good Practice Infobriefs; no. 273. World Bank, Washington, DC. © World Bank. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/9576 License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.”

Thought of the week

If you can do something about it, why complain. If you can’t do anything about it, stop complaining. Let others do something about it. 

Dan Ariely: What makes us feel good about our work? | TED Talk – re-post

Whenever a difficult project gets in or a simple project becomes complicated, I remember what was the key to making cake mixes successful. It was about taking the eggs and milk out of the cake mix, so that the maker can claim it as his/her own through effort and time invested.

Meaning + effort = happiness & productivity.

Enjoy:

http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_ariely_what_makes_us_feel_good_about_our_work?utm_campaign=social&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_content=talk&utm_term=business

What to expect when: the client has a tantrum

In the projects world, we usualy get adults as clients. Regardless of the age, you might experience a client tantrum.

They want it their way. They are noisy about it. They unnecessarily attract attention.

The first time i experienced it, it was scary. A deputy prime minister wanted it his way. He is running for president of a country now, by the way.

What can a project manager do? There is no universal soothing formula as clients are as different as the stars on the sky. I personally love reading about parenting and child growth, which offer great inspiration for kids and adults alike.

So, here are steps to take when the client has a tantrum:

Seat back and take a deep slow breath.

Scan your body for any tension.

Say confidently and softly: “I thank you for your concern for the project. I see you are upset right now and it feels for you good to shout/hit the table/kick the wall (depending on what they do). It’s your project and i am managing it to get the best possible results for you. I am here for you and the project’.

If the shouting/kicking continue, repeat. It’s also an advice found in boundary setting psychology literature.

If it does not work, here is a joke one of consultants i work with told me in a similar situation. A poster in a designer office said:

“Price list:

Design – 100 Euro

Design with you looking over my shoulder – 200 Euro

Design with you looking over my shoulder and telling me how to do it – 300 Euro

Design with you looking over my shoulder, telling me how to do it and me doing it – 400 Euro

Design by you at my computer – 500 Euro”,