Ask people for their best project

Simple Workflow diagram
While reading through a project management book I came across a very simple, but also very efficient trick regarding changing people’s behavior for the better: asking them what their best project was.

I was reading “How to Change the World” from Jurgen Appelo when I came across an interesting story how to get people to tell their best practices. Appelo himself their mentions a discussion with a Scrum coach who tells him to ask people for their best project, to let them tell stories how everything went, what was good, and so on.

First of all, I like the idea because it puts the people in story telling mode. In such a mode they do not try to fit their experiences in any pre-structured form and they don’t have a pressure to fulfill any expectations, a problem that can come up if they have to answer questions. Second, they just tell their own experiences from their own point of view – and together with it, as Appelo outlines, their best practices. That way you can get a pretty good idea of how the people think, what they expect and what actually works for them. In other words, this way you will learn about working practices and approaches they experienced themselves.

The next step is naturally: if you are entering a running project, or planning a new one, ask them what has to change in the project so that it becomes as successful as the one they have just told you about. It is a very simple, but also pretty efficient step towards more modern and flexible project management, which is very, very important in IT projects.

2 thoughts on “Ask people for their best project”

  1. Hi,

    From my experience, when you ask “What your best project was?” you will get a lot of drama. And the person being asked this question will never tell you that his best project is a project you’ve managed!

    1. Hej PM Hut, I guess you get most of the story when you enter relatively new groups or projects which you haven’t managed before. That way, there is no personal and/or previous connection which would inflict the judgement.
      However, I do wonder what you mean with drama? Do you have a specific example? I wonder how people would come up with drama in story telling mode – and what to do about it….

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