Interview with Bas de Baar

Bas de Baar discusses Project Leadership within a global and virtual world via his blog and video podcast,?The Project Shrink?. He has more than a decade of experience as a Software Project Manager in the publishing, financial, and public sectors, managing multi-national teams.
Bas has a Master’s degree in Business Informatics. He lives in The Netherlands with his wife. He is the author of the book?Surprise? Are You a Software Project Manager Now? You are a member of the PMI New Media Council. This council brings together industry bloggers and webcasters to help PMI advance their profession, promote the exchange and make the most of new social media channels.
Josh: Josh, Thank you so much! How did you get started in Project Management?
Bas: I studied Business Informatics at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. As a final practice, I was able to do research in a Project Management section at a large financial institution. They had to deal with what we call “interventions”, which were changes that were triggered by the project environment. As a plan-driven-pro, my checklist was created and I searched for missing components. However, it took me a few months to realize that everything was in place. They had everything, from standard documents to procedures. The project was successful.
Being the eager beaver I am, I kept looking and searching for the missing ingredient. However, I couldn’t find any clues to help me solve the urgent problem. One moment I had an “aha” moment (a whack on my head), which was a turning point in my professional life. I was at the coffee corner when I heard fellow project team members talk about a procedure they weren’t going to follow. My jaw dropped. I didn’t follow the official procedure. Not following company policies? They didn’t follow company policies. All changes made were going to be done without the knowledge of the project manager. The penny fell. Although it seems so obvious now, it rocked my world back then. They forgot to deal directly with the people.
I was hooked on project management. Soon after receiving my degree, I began working as a PM in newspapers in Germany and The Netherlands.
Josh: Who are you most inspired by and from whom have you learned a lot about project management?
Bas: Barry Boehm (wrote “Software Engineering Economics”) is without a doubt the best-known author. He introduced me two key concepts to my thinking about PM.
a) Make everyone a winner (Theory of W)
Everybody affected by the project, whether direct or indirect has something to share, and they will. Everyone wants the best for himself and his (or her) part of the organization. The software project manager’s job is to ensure that everyone gets what they want. He must “make everyone a winner”. In this regard, the role of project manager is that of a negotiator.
b) Balancing your approach
He offers insight into when to use agile methods and when you should use plan-driven methods in “Balancing Agility and Discipline”. Barry believes that there are a variety of projects that can be suited to each approach. Or a combination.
Josh: How do internal conflicts among members of your team be managed?
Bas: I just wanted to point you to this wonderful explanation by Christina Bowen. She can explain it better than I can.
Josh: What is your opinion on leadership and management?
Bas: Management is the management of a project within an organizational context. You are dependent on the organization. They provide the authority, resources, information, and time.

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