In this week's episode of Project Management Paradise, Johnny speaks with Donnie MacNicol, the founder of Team Animation and Author of “Project Leadership”.

Donnie is one of the main contributors to the iMAPraxis Initiative and that is going to be the topic for discussion today.

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A short overview of the iMAPraxis Initiativ

People are different – the way we make decisions, communicate, involve others and the materials we produce (and a host of other factors). Surprisingly these differences are not taken into account in how we describe what project management is and how it should be practised (when I use project management I also include program(me) and portfolio management). We, the collective projects community, have multiple models and tools to give us insights into how different people are motivated, work with others, lead, etc.

To date these insights have not been used directly to help improve the design, adoption and practice of the many structures and processes that go into making what we know as project management. That is about to change through the iMAPraxis Initiative. If you are intrigued and would like to know take the questionnaire here.

Excerpts from Episode 27: The iMAPraxis Initiative – combining People and process for better Projects

The tool iMAPraxis is a new concept designed for bringing together the ‘People’ aspect and the ‘Process’ aspect of a Project, Program or Portfolio Management. We will refer to it as ‘Project*’ hereinafter. In working out the Process, scant attention is generally given to how different people will approach the same Process. For some Companies this resulted in the availability of a brilliant set of Project* Management processes which are not used by the people… and they wonder why?

iMA is a diagnostic tool which helps identify people’s individual Communication and Engagement styles which in turn impacts the way they lead and engage in managing Projects*. It is not a tool for ‘personality profiling’ like Myers and Briggs but one that enables an individual to Identify, Modify and Adapt (iMA) their unique style. It acknowledges that people think differently, do things differently, engage with others differently and approach issues differently, iMA is a colour coded diagnostic system which is simple to use with just 10 questions with two options for answers in each. For example in looking at assertiveness the choice would be between “I tend to listen more than talk” and “I tend to talk more than listen”.

It is understood that every individual does have a mix of what each of the four colors represent. A High Red, High Blue, High Green and High Yellow denotes that one will primarily approach a Project* with the mindset that the particular color represents. The iMA diagnosis takes just 3 minutes to complete. Obviously it is not a ‘perfect- foolproof’ formula but a guide. iMA is about the People element.

Praxis is about the Process element. It encompasses different professional models falling into the four areas of a) knowledge, b) capability maturity, c) competence and d) method. It is a framework on which one can overlay and adopt the different methodologies available from professional bodies like APM PEM.

Samples of how this really works have been created in areas like Risk Management, Benefits Management and Stakeholder Management. If one considers the ‘identify’ stage of Risk Management for example – information on how individuals who fall into each of the different colours according to their iMA Diagnosis would identify Risk has been identified.

If an individual who is a ‘High Green’ as per their iMA takes a look at what approach is listed under ‘High Green’ they will probably find that most of it resonates with their own thinking. ‘High Greens’ would typically tend to analyze previous projects, risks and issues, their analysis would be quantitative, and they would try to get some measures around it. That same individual now has the possibility to look at what approach a ‘high yellow’ might take and consider that approach as well. The ‘High Yellows’ would rather gather people together, run workshops and their analysis would typically be subjective and qualitative with even the involvement outsiders.

Some of the tangible benefits of iMAPraxis are that essentially each person has access to a host of different approaches unlike their own. And that knowledge is absolutely valuable and opens up many options. A ‘High Green’ Team leader can appreciate other approaches that the Team members who might be ‘High Yellow or green or blue would be comfortable with and might choose to adopt some of it as well.

People in Project Management are well aware of the need to be adaptable and flexible in approach and this provides them with some clarity on how they might adapt and play to the strengths of their existing team members who have done the iMA diagnosis and know what colour they are and therefore what their typical approaches might be.

The iMAPraxis is a framework and not something rigid you’ve got to follow. This leaves space and opportunity to be creative and to identify even the Team’s consolidated predominant colour and choose which approach is suitable for different aspects of the projects* cycle. There are Companies that have excellent Project processes which are not being used by the people to the extent that it was expected. Using iMAPraxis they can evaluate why the people or some people are not comfortable with it and look at different ways of implementing it.

The feedback from those using iMAPraxis has been great in that they say it’s pretty accurate and they believe that it could impact the success of Project Management in very significant positive ways.