Project Oversight Training
On average, half of Oakmont’s Board of Directors (BoD) turns over each year. Since the BoD essentially hires and fires committee members (and, sometimes, entire committees), committee personnel, structure and direction can vary widely year to year.
The transitory nature of Oakmont leadership creates an interesting set of problems, particularly for long-term project management. When a single project spans multiple boards and committees, enormous inefficiencies can and do occur. A well-documented recent example is the pickleball project, which cost Oakmont much more in terms of money, time, energy and harmony than the final price of the East Rec tennis court conversion would suggest.
To help combat this problem, Oakmont’s BoD recently approved the creation of a small, focused team to develop training materials that will standardize our approach to overseeing the management of large projects.
This team has already completed a list of Phase One deliverables along with an Opportunity Statement and Success Vision. They anticipate completing Phase One by the end of this month.
In classic Oakmont tradition, this team features extraordinarily talented and experienced individuals willing to work for nothing but community benefit. Two members of the team, in particular, are acknowledged experts in this field. Team leader Jim Ouimette has 15 years experience using phased project management processes while working at Chevron Corporation, ran a company advising clients on managing large projects and holds a Ph.D. from CalTech. Team and Board member Tom Kendrick has written several books on project management and identifying project risk and holds an MBA from Wharton.
Ultimately, we hope and believe the output of this team will be materials that can be used to train all future boards and committees. Using proven effective project management techniques in a standardized way will reduce project waste, execution time and cost while increasing outcome efficacy.
Consistently effective leadership is another problem created by the transitory nature of Oakmont governance. When boards and committees are revolving doors, with members entering and exiting frequently, leadership is extra hard because the nature of each team is constantly changing.
Just as it’s useful to promote a standardized way to oversee project management, it’s also useful to promote a standardized way to lead. If Oakmont inculcates into its culture an effective leadership style that survives board and committee member transitions, it enhances its ability to effectively govern itself.
In a previous President’s Message, I talked about a leadership style that is almost universally acclaimed as producing the best results: servant leadership. Servant leadership turns the traditional hierarchical organizational philosophy on its head. Rather than subordinates serving bosses, bosses serve subordinates by ensuring subordinates have everything they need to succeed at their jobs. The result is happier and more productive subordinates and more effective organizations.
About ten of us, all either OVA or sub-association board members or committee leaders, are meeting regularly to better understand servant leadership and how we can apply its principles in Oakmont. The hope is that servant leadership will become the de facto standard leadership style, with a life longer than the service tenures of any of us.
By creating templates for project oversight and leadership, this Board hopes to not just solve near-term policy issues, but to make a positive and lasting impact on our community.