Yes, you might say. He certainly kept a handle on the finances. One of the most import jobs of any project manager is to track 'actual' spend against the plan and to monitor 'forecast' spend against the plan, in order to ensure the project is completed to the agreed budget. You could even argue that he got the most out of his employees. Poor Bob Cratchit was his only, small but somewhat efficient project team.

Some would argue that Ebenezer had the right ‘hard skills’ to take any project through…cost control, contract management, risk management, scheduling and planning. After all he had made a complete success of his own counting house business. However, it was the ‘soft skills’ that were lacking. Building trust, communicating and making employees feel valued. It is the ‘people management’ side of project management that motivates. Scrooge as we all know, learned the hard way that it is the soft skills in life, and in project management that also get the job done. When people feel valued, they will work harder, sometimes for less.

So, if business was successful, what prompted Scrooge to change his ways? The appearance of his old acquaintance Jacob Marley and the lessons provided by his three visiting ghosts of course. What wisdom would our three ghosts have passed on to our ‘Project Manager’ Scrooge? What valuable information and instruction would they have given him that would have prompted him to find the error of his wicked ways?

“You will be haunted… by Three Spirits… Without their visits,” said the Ghost, “you cannot hope to shun the path I tread. Expect the first tomorrow, when the bell tolls One…. “Expect the second on the next night at the same hour. The third, upon the next night when the last stroke of Twelve has ceased to vibrate.”

Says his good friend Jacob Marley.

The ghost of Christmas past

The first ghost to visit Ebenezer was the ghost of Christmas past. The Ghost takes Scrooge to the scenes in his life that have shaped the man that he is today, our embittered, mean and scathing project manager. We see the coldness his father directed toward him as a young man and how this began to shape his own inner self. This culminated in his true love Belle parting ways with him on Christmas Eve because he cared for money more than her. He visits Fezziwig his old employer. Fezziwig treated Ebenezer with compassion and respect and bestowed great affection on all of his employees. His Project Management style was the antithesis of Scrooge.

Like his father, Scrooge did not learn the lessons of the past and became a cold-hearted replica of his father. The ghost was of course trying to bestow on him the knowledge of any good PRINCE2 Project Manager, learning from the mistakes of the past. ‘Learn from experience’ is one of the guiding principles of PRINCE2 and part of its employment is the lessons log. Mistakes are important. They teach us what ‘not’ to do again. Lessons logs should shape the lessons report at the end of each project stage.

With hindsight to motivate him, Scrooge would realise that ‘management by fear’ and it’s ‘zero tolerance’ is not the way, rather to ‘manage by exception’. Intervening and directing, as and when is needed and managing using more of the ‘soft skills’ required by all good project managers, may have meant that Scrooge could have evaded those three ghostly visitors in the first place.

The ghost of Christmas present

The ghost of Christmas present takes Scrooge to various places around the area where he now lives. Scrooges visit to Bob Cratchit’s house which enables him to see Bob’s chronically ill son ‘Tiny Tim’. He is informed that if he doesn’t change his ways, in the future ‘Tiny Tim’ will die.

The ghost makes reference to Scrooge’s wicked tongue and heartless comments to people. Not the best example of good people skills. Perhaps if he had dispensed a little of the soft skills used in APM, then the spirit may not have cautioned him to ‘forebear that wicked tongue.’ One of things that makes APM stand out as a study route for project managers is its focus on ‘soft skills’. After all, a project is fundamentally run by its people, so the communication style our PM chooses, can be fundamental to project success.

As our lead trainer Richard Lampitt explains in his recent blog ‘managing projects with true motivators’

“It is the job of the project manager to ensure that team members feel that their position within the team is a worthy one and that they feel motivated and valued. This way, our PM can be sure that they are getting the best from their team ‘at all times’, not just when the project is going well.”

Although financial payment appeared to be a true motivator for our protagonist, this is often not the case for the rest of us.

The ghost of Christmas yet to come.

The third and final of the Christmas spirits. A ghostly spectre with an air of gloom and misery, showing Scrooge the true fallout of his ‘management by fear’ style. What would the ghost of projects yet to come be showing Scrooge?

Projects perhaps that have come in on the line, products approved and implemented only for the change initiatives to be left by the wayside once his newly growing staff have disengaged with the change. Scrooge may be successful now, but with any business success story comes the ability to react to change and implement it well.

It is unlikely that the old Scrooge would have heeded the importance of understanding his people and making sure he had won their hearts and minds. The new Scrooge is lucky. He saw the error of his ways before it was too late and we are sure the follow up to ‘A Christmas Carol’ would have been a much happier and well headed event.

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