Over the years we've been asked by clients to help them select Program Managers that demonstrate FTTM (fast-time-to-market) behavior and skills.
We developed a list of 18 attributes we observed in many FTTM managers with whom we've had the opportunity to work (below). This is based on many years of work on hundreds of projects around the world. We've seen lots of people in action. We typically look for people that have many, if not all of these qualities.
Often we participate in interviews of potential candidates. The following is a set of recent questions we developed for a round of interviews. This assumes standard background questions have already been asked in pre-screening interviews.
Describe the most complex project you've managed.
What made it complex and how did you manage the complexity?
Have you worked on/managed a project that was on schedule and/or was accelerated to finish earlier than the committed target date? If yes, describe what you did to cause it to finish on time or early? What were the top three barriers? And how did you overcome them?
Have you managed a full cross-functional team?Includes; engineering, manufacturing, marketing functions
Have you managed a bleeding edge innovation project? What made it different? What were the results? What did you learn?
Describe how you plan a project? Specifically, how do you engage the team members?
Describe how you track and report progress on a project? Performance to schedule, trends, etc.
What project failed, where you were the manager? What did you learn?
Describe the role of a Program Manager of a cross-functional development team? Describe your experiences; when it worked well and also when it did not work well.
What are the top three Key Success Criteria you must have in place in order for you to be successful on your next project? Share examples of when these criteria were in place, and when they were not.
How much "power" do you think you need to be effective? Describe "power" in the context of a Program Manager's role. How will you respond if you don't get it?
How do you get Engineers to plan and to be accountable to a schedule?
We also use a decision model (above) to help score and rank candidates against a basic selection criteria. Every client weights the criteria differently, depending on the skill set they want to balance out a team. These criterion also change based on the client culture, organizational maturity, and market segment consideration. By changing the weighting of the criteria we can simulate how the candidate pool would be re-prioritized.