End PM's 'hired gun' mentality

RICHARD F. REZNICEK SR. PROJECT MANAGER H.T. LYONS INC. ALLENTOWN, PA. I've read H. Kent Craig's February column (" Don't become a statistic when projects fail," pg. 36) and several others that he has authored. While I respect his knowledge, I thought you might like to hear from someone who does not agree with his project management approach. We all know how to paper our behinds, to the point of nausea.

RICHARD F. REZNICEK SR.
PROJECT MANAGER
H.T. LYONS INC.

ALLENTOWN, PA. — I've read H. Kent Craig's February column (" Don't become a statistic when projects fail," pg. 36) and several others that he has authored. While I respect his knowledge, I thought you might like to hear from someone who does not agree with his project management approach.

We all know how to paper our behinds, to the point of nausea. I have had my share of battle wounds and know what life looks like in the trenches. To find the "rat in the wood pile" may look like the right way to keep the barn clean given the current structure of project delivery; but it does nothing to solve the bigger problem, which is why we're spending time looking for the rat and not working to improve "project" performance.

Unless Kent Craig plans on continuing to pat himself on the back for the "hired gun" mentality and not look at ways to improve our industry, he may learn the lesson that every gunslinger learned ... the faster draw.

I would like to hear Kent's thoughts on this matter.

H. Kent Craig replies: I'm always looking for ways to improve our industry. My column from December 2000 was, to the best of my knowledge, the first time any metrics had ever been published anywhere regarding median benchmarks of work volume for mechanical PMs that were reasonable and achievable for most PMs in most companies. For the past couple of years, I have sounded my incessant alarm call to the new reality that our profession is shifting away from actual project management to one of process, not project shepardship, and this call to awareness is forward looking for our industry.

As far as being a "gunslinger," yes, I do have a that "warrior mentality," guilty as charged. Our mechanical contracting industry often is downright brutal because of the super-high stress level most of us are under most of the time. If I am not prepared mentally to handle this stress, then I can't do my job. What I try to communicate to my readers, especially those just coming up the ranks, is that it's seldom the fastest gun who wins the shootout; it's the one who stays the coolest and calmest, doesn't panic when bullets whiz past his ears and who, under that kind of job barrage, takes dead aim at his intended target — bottom-line job profitability — and then fires.