Approach:

What is the story behind the Mavendog name?

Maven (pronounced "mey-vuhn") is another word for specialist. The Mavendog name is inspired by one of our past clients, who called every challenged initiative he had a "dog of a project", and he would call on us to help recover and deliver it. The "-dog" suffix stuck, and the MAVENDOG name was born. It also captures the company's more gritty nature, whether referring to our team (we call ourselves "Mavendogs"), or the symbolic "dog" of a challenge we are asked to tame.

What exactly is a "delivery specialist"?

If you want to sustain relevance in the marketplace, then you need to understand what it takes to deliver projects. Otherwise, strategic goals are destined for stagnation, dilution, or outright failure. To be truly great at project delivery, you have to specialize in it. Our delivery specialists can:

  • Define a project/application portfolio
  • Lead complex, challenged, and unique projects
  • Get failing projects back on track
  • Ensure proper change enablement and change management
  • Gauge project ROI and its impact on the marketplace
  • Provide organizational and leadership development

What is the Mavendog connection to the military?

Veterans are a big part of the Mavendog consultant-recruiting model. Whether a Veteran has just left the Military; has been out for a while; or is still serving through the Guard or Reserve, he or she is a natural fit with the Mavendog culture. We have been awarded by the Department of Defense for this approach and policy of going above-and-beyond for our Guard and Reservist employees. We also partner with the North Carolina for Military Employment (NC4ME) in support of Veteran hiring.

It’s important to note that we don’t value military leadership experience more highly than civilian leadership experience. Not by any means. We want as broad a diversity of experience as possible, whether civilian of military in orgin. But for Veterans looking for their next career step, Mavendog offers an unparalleled platform.

How is Mavendog different from contracting/staffing companies?

Contracting firms are vehicles to fill staffing holes. They offer more generic, high volume staffing models (offshoring; outsourcing; managed services). Mavendog, on the other hand, is built on a Practice Area model to provide, support, and develop the best project leaders and teams. It’s ideal for project delivery, market analysis, strategic planning, and leadership coaching. No matter the project or endeavor, each Mavendog Practice Area supports the on-site consultant and/or team, which improves the likelihood of project stability and success. This model is particularly effective for the kind of initiatives Mavendog likes to take on – unique, challenged, chaotic.

What are you looking in a Mavendog recruit?

We seek out mavens in project leadership. Mavendog is built on a specialized Practice Area model. Our aim is to be the #1 source of delivery leaders (accomplished, results-oriented portfolio, program, project, and change management talent). It is a movement away from generic, weaker-matrixed consulting and staffing models.

What is Investigative Analysis? I've never heard of the term.

Investigative Analysis (IA) is one of Mavendog's six Practice Areas. IA is our source of top analysts for targeted investigative needs — e.g., root cause analysis; risk and issue assessments (especially controversial ones); vendor analysis, selection, and performance; ROI evaluations. Clients also leverage them to help determine what needs, situations, and predicaments are grounds for a new project. Our Marketing Analysis service falls into this practice area as well.

How does CHANGE ENABLEMENT fit into your company?

Mavendog is unique in that it integrates change enablement, organizational design, and organizational development disciplines into its project delivery services. Mavendog's CHANGE ENABLEMENT services help navigate and address the resistance that can bog down project deployments and organization strategies. Whatever the reason, change efforts often are improvised. As a result, the organization may experience difficulties with implementation, acceptance, and institutionalization. The workforce itself is often victimized by the "tyranny of the urgent" without proper time to cope and adapt. Mavendog brings a systematic application of change, helping both managers and employees alike.

Scenarios:

Our organization is in a state of upheaval. Should we wait until things settled down before utilizing Mavendog services?

Not at all. Mavendog services are made to support companies in a state of upheaval. Project work doesn’t stop when the company is in a state of flux. In fact, the number and complexity of projects increases at that time, usually with the intent of re-establishing order, productivity, and company direction. Also, this environment is where we thrive -- chaos, disruption, and change.

We're still evaluating strategic initiatives. Do you offer strategic help?

Our goal is to be the best at delivering whatever it is you want to accomplish. From a strategic sense, we provide portfolio and application management strategists to help you break down your goals into component programs, projects, and application tools. We then help you outline, prioritize, and road map the work across a time horizon. We also provide organizational and leadership development strategies to position your workforce for the strategic direction you want to go.

Can Mavendog help navigate interpersonal conflict issues, departmental siloes, mixed priorities?

Yes. Mavendog is an intervention vehicle for dealing with challenging human dynamics, as well as developing your workforce. Project Management is a leadership challenge from both a task AND a people/behavior standpoint. Often we deal with projects that are challenged because they don't have the support of their people; they face unmanaged conflict; or their leaders are inexperienced or ill-equipped. Through our ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOPMENT SERVICES, we offer leadership assessments, training, and coachor new employees, middle-managers, a transitioning military workforce, or C-Level executives. Our goal is to strengthen both the organization and project environment by promoting new skills and positive behavioral habits.

Do you guys cater to small and mid-market companies?

Absolutely. Mavendog is great for smaller companies. Facing critical projects with rapid time-to-market dependencies, these companies often do not have financial flexibility to bring in top project talent. And as a result, they often gamble on "cheaper" staffing alternatives (if they can afford them at all). But Mavendog works with these small and mid-market companies to figure out a way to provide them the support they need. And let’s be honest — their projects are usually the most fun and rewarding!

Should I consider Mavendog if I DON'T have an established PMO?

Mavendog is perfect for clients operating without a Project Management Office (PMO) or with a young and immature one. Every company starts with limited project and change management capabilities. Thus, they rely on the individual heroics of select personnel. And that is fine as long as you have project leaders who know what they are doing.

We have a challenged project. What is the difference between a project manager and recovery specialist?

If you have a failing project, then it requires more than a traditional project manager. Project failures require someone with the experience, precision, discipline, and fortitude to resolve the crisis. Project delivery environments today are complex and risky, and failure is far more likely (as The Standish Group reminds us in their annual Chaos Report). It is why Mavendog has built a recovery methodology for dealing with failing projects and attracts the sort of specialists who can handle them.

Misconceptions:

Isn't project management more of an administrative function these days?

There is a fundamental misunderstanding by many organizations about what project management is supposed to be and how to use it properly. Project and change management are sometimes perceived as ancillary, bureaucratic roles (administrative; coordinative; and cheap). However, just as technical specialization is now the norm, project and change management are specialty fields unto themselves. They require high degrees of training, experience and political savvy. And let’s be honest -- The complexity of business operations and human dynamics in a global economy, however, make it impossible for executives to understand all the details of any one project.

Aren’t contracting/staffing firms cheaper?

They may be cheaper up front.... But in the long run, you get what you pay for, and you may end up paying more. The common complaint is that clients have to cycle through multiple contractors to find one who “will do”. And after all is said and done, budget and schedule are blown. Contractors are meant to be inexpensive and interchangeable by design. But they're not delivery specialists.

It is important to note that Mavendog is not against the contractor/staffing model. In fact we consider contracting firms to be indirect competitors and seek partnerships with them. For example, in our portfolio management work we may identify programs that would be better served by staff support to cover general duties and tasks. However, we do not recommend contractor firms for complex programs and projects.

We use outside solution providers (e.g., software/product companies) to provide the project management. Why do we need you?

Outside solution or product providers may be experts on their product and service. But they are NOT experts in project and change management. Over time many of these providers have stopped carrying project management staff altogether OR have delegated project oversight to account managers or a product engineer. The irony is that their projects are subject to massive cost and schedule overruns, quality compromises, or failure.

I have project managers in-house. Why do I need yours?

In many cases, in-house project leaders are perfectly capable. But many in-house project leaders are not skilled enough or properly allocated to handle complicated, strategic assignments. For example, an in-house “project manager” could actually be:

  • An administrative role with zero authority
  • A project coordinator or project expediter carrying a project manager title
  • A functional manager or department head covering project management duties
  • A hybrid role (e.g., having a PM cover analyst roles)

We do not intend to diminish those resources; they could very well be solid personnel. But they are general practitioners, not specialists. And for many project situations, that’s a huge risk. We highly advise you to be on the lookout for situations where your in-house delivery leadership is hampered by a gap in expertise and specialization.

Why should I consider Mavendog if I already have an established PMO?

Even within an established PMO, there are projects that are too urgent, sensitive, or irregular for traditional project management staff. Mavendog advocates using tactical specialists through our Project & Change Delivery practice area. PCD specialists have an expertise in unique project domains or situations (e.g., expedited projects; high risk initiatives; product and service deliveries that are new to the organization; project delivery during a time of company destabilization, such as divestitures, mergers, re-orgs; etc.).

We are an Agile Methodology shop. Why would we need project and change management help?

Mavendog consultants are familiar with all forms of delivery methodologies, and some even have a specialized focus on (and certification in) Agile. That being said, 'Agile versus Project Management' is an 'apples versus oranges' comparison. Agile is one of many tools available for running a project. Nevertheless, some organizations advocate phasing out project management across the board, thinking that it is synonymous with waterfall-based methodologies. But that position demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the project discipline. Project management is not a methodology; it is a leadership practice and function for driving scope, schedule, cost, and quality. Project and program managers (ideally) should have the flexibility to work together with the organization to decide what methodology is best to deliver the project, based on project type and conditions (e.g., Waterfall, AGILE, Six Sigma – DMAIC, etc.). Those who perceive Agile as a project management replacement put the project (and strategic objectives) at risk.