As we sit working on our projects it’s hard not to realize we are just piece of a system needed to get the product to the finish line. Like my immigrant Ukrainian father told me when I was a boy, “you can’t build a loaf of bread with a grain of wheat.” For a project to succeed it often takes efforts from many people doing many different things. Sometimes all the pieces, parts and process are connected like a fine oiled machine and the product is delivered seamlessly. Most often though, the program/project office and stakeholder interconnections are far from perfect. What is the system?
Medows (2008) defined a system as “an interconnected set of elements that is coherently organized in a way that achieves something.” So, broken down it looks like: “elements,” “interconnected,” “(for) something.” Let’s assume we are “elements” and are “interconnected” to get the job done. The tricky part often is figuring out what “(for) something” is. In other words, what is our purpose in the system we are in?
Every part of the system should have one common trait: value added. In these fiscally constrained times, this is even more important. All elements and interconnections must be aligned for a common purpose for the system to work effectively. Always ask yourself, how does what I do add value to the project? I would also go one step further by asking, what is my value in the project team? In a sea of project workers, never underestimate the value of just one-person adding value. One person in the right part of the system can make a difference!
Meadows D.H (2008). Thinking in Systems. Chelsea Green Publishing: Vermont.