Peanut Butter, Jelly and Project Management

One of the first things Marissa Mayer did on becoming Yahoo’s CEO and being tasked with rescuing the once mighty company was to launch an assault on unnecessary bureaucracy with the creation of ‘PB&J’.

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A play on the ‘peanut butter and jelly’ much loved in the U.S; she has cut away layers of red tape and instituted an internal online service called ‘PB&J’ which actually stands for ‘Process, Bureaucracy, and Jams’. This initiative allows employees to complain about organisational blockages and excessive overheads that slow action and decision-making.

“Jammed by problems and see a solution? We are looking at how to streamline process, reduce bureaucracy, and remove jams — PB&J!,” Mayer wrote in an internal memo.

“Share your ideas on what would make your job easier, boost your productivity and help solve problems.”

“….Do you see a problem and know how to solve it? Want to brainstorm with colleagues about what to fix and how to fix it? Give us your ideas. Or be heard loud and clear by simply voting.”

I have spoken many times on the fact that a successful project management office (PMO) should be a ‘balanced’ PMO, and this includes striking the right balance right between people and process. Both are critical to project success and both come under the remit of the PMO.

But it is the responsibility of the PMO to ‘make life better’ for the people – the project managers, so that they can effectively and efficiently do their jobs – and for the business, so that the projects are seen to be under control and delivering benefits.

Often one of the first tasks I get involved in when helping a company develop a PMO and associated project management practice is to review the methods or frameworks that they use to guide their project managers. And in many cases, I’ve found quality reviews and some control points or stages need to be put in place to improve the control.

But it is always a concern that anything added should add proportional value. For example, quality assurance should deliver quality (and not be a burdensome universally hated overhead that delivers no real benefit to anyone).

One way to do this is to think carefully when you design such a process.

The other is to follow Yahoo’s example and make sure that you have a ‘PB&J’ in place for the PMO team to let you know when you have got it wrong.

 

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