Where were the Project Managers in the Cyprus bank shut down?

Most days I’m hopping from one marketing project to the next, each at a different stage of completeness, making sure that all of the team members have something to work on, that my client is happy and informed, and that I’m meeting my own personal goals and to dos. All of this can get pretty stressful, especially if any of the efforts previously listed aren’t going well. I’d like to remind my fellow Project Managers that we as a group need to keep the golden rule in mind when it comes to our political views and opinions on the speed of which the government can execute on the our demands. Let me to explain:

I’ve been listening to Minnesota Public Radio a lot lately and recently they have been discussing that the little island country of Cyprus has closed their banks for 2 weeks (no thanks to the Russian Mafia).

This got me thinking, how does a countrywide bank shutdown happen? Is there a messenger that goes from bank to bank forcing everyone out and locking doors behind them? Do they send out an email and hope it doesn’t go to the bank president’s SPAM folder? Do they broadcast it on every news station and expect them to hear about it? Or has it been looming in every bank’s pocket book for years and they knew they would hit rock bottom one day?

It seems to me that this, like many government initiatives, would take a lot of coordination of the right people, with some pretty strict requirements and deadlines. Yet, as citizens, we don’t typically look at government issues as a complex problems with requirements that need prioritizing and planning. We just want results. And we want them now.

Lucky for us as Americans, our Federal Administration has staff members such as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Scheduling and the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations who are tasked with having their finger on the pulse of the top priority projects, to lead, manage and oversee various efforts supporting public policy and the President’s campaign initiatives. I see these roles as the Project Managers for the President’s projects. I stumbled upon a previous Deputy COS’s current resume, it reads:

Most recently, Mr. Hagin served as White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations from January 2001 to August 2008. In that position he was responsible for managing the overall administrative, security, and military support structure surrounding the President of the United States, as well as the day to day management of White House operations and the White House Complex. He also served as the principal official in charge of continuity programs for the Executive Branch and coordinated emergency planning across multiple jurisdictions. Mr. Hagin had oversight responsibility for: the Presidential Airlift Group/Air Force One; the President’s Marine Helicopter Squadron; the White House Communications Agency; Presidential Policy, Plans and Requirements; the Presidential Protection Division of the United States Secret Service; Presidential scheduling and travel; human resources; information systems, as well as technology upgrade programs including the renovation and modernization of key White House facilities and systems including the White House Situation Room, classified communications and contingency systems, the historic Old Executive Office building and the White House Press Briefing Room.

Mr. Hagin led the extensive, post-September 11th effort to reorganize and modernize the structure and methodology for modern day Presidential support and was one of the principals responsible for planning the formation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (Command Consulting Group, http://www.commandcg.com/en/joseph-w-hagin).

I hope that my fellow project managers reading this relate Mr. Hagins’ job requirements to their own and think, “Boy, my job’s a cake walk compared to that guy’s.” I mean seriously — ‘coordinated emergency planning across multiple jurisdictions’ — if this is the guy that would take care of coordinating the bank shut down across the United States of America, I’ll keep my job, thank you!

Had my interest been in public policy, I may have come to this conclusion sooner in my life, but better late than never:

We as Americans are the client. The more demands we have on our Government Agencies, the harder it is for them to focus on any one issue. We need to prioritize our needs and allow time for each of our Government Agencies to prepare and make a plan to execute on the needs of clients to our country. We need to set them up for success rather than continually throw more and more requirements at them hoping they come in under budget (aka decrease taxes) and deliver our requests on time.

Sound familiar?
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Below is a new book and PMI research study that could prove to be interesting reading for those curious about more information on Project Management in Government.

Agile Project Management for Government by Brian Werham.

Program Management 2010: A study of program management in the U.S. Federal Government
Sponsored by the Project Management Institute – June 2010

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