Neuroscience for Better Projects – advice for IT professionals

Neuroscience for better projects.   Carole Osterweil writing in ITNow offers this advice to  IT professionals.

Take time to understand how the human brain works and you can enjoy higher productivity and better project outcomes with less complexity and less stress.


How does neuroscience lead to better projects?


Harnessing the power to deliver


Effective IT project management is about carving out a clear and visible path to the future. The trouble is, this is becoming more and more difficult to do.  The environment is never static. Key stakeholders change their minds for reasons that are difficult to fathom, personal politics change the dynamics and make work more problematic.  Against all this, they still expect you to deliver on time and to budget.

What do you do when people don’t behave as you’d like them to?  As a project manager, how do you deliver results in such a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world?


We are only human


Traditional project management has paid scant attention to human experience dismissing it, and much on the people side as ‘soft and fluffy’.

The stats on project success rates tell us we’ve plenty of room for improvement.  Figures from PMI suggest that only 52% of projects are delivered on time and just 69% meet their goals and business intent [1].  In the UK a report into major government projects observes that less than 50% have a green or green/amber rating [2].  The case for paying attention to the people-side of projects becomes even stronger when we add in recent research into well-being and stress levels amongst project professionals [3].

One of my colleagues, Stephen Carver at Cranfield University, cites a survey of 250 project professionals.  70% of respondents said socio-political factors (i.e. things to do with relationships, personalities and behaviours under stress) cause them the most trouble.  Yet this was the focus of only 10% of their training [4].

Carver also says

I am constantly amazed at how much time, effort and money is thrown at structural issues (time, pace, scope etc) and how little at the messy socio-political where the vast majority of problems occur.


Since writing Project Delivery, Uncertainty and Neuroscience I’ve realised one of the reasons for giving socio-political issues so little attention is that we’ve lacked the basic building blocks.


Neuroscience for better projects


Read the full article in ITNow  to

  • discover the basic building blocks for making sense of social and political issues
  • learn about the six point plan for staying on track


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