As part of the first ever #pmFlashBlog, I was asked to share some thoughts on ‘What does project management mean to me? A project managers sermon” and was excited to join in. As many of you know, I co-founded #PMChat and also founded my own project management consulting firm, KPS. My wife always says to me “You do this all day, how can you come home and read and write more about it?” I love this stuff!
When executed correctly, project management is a company’s competitive advantage and the project manager is the epitome of leadership! According to the Project Management Institute, a project is a temporary endeavor in that it has a defined beginning and end in time, and therefore defined scope and resources. Additionally, a project is also a unique initiative, in that it is not a routine operation, designed to produce a unique (new) product, service or result. Wow!
Think about the iPod, the microwave, or just about anything that NASA has accomplished. These projects resulted in products and results that have impacted society forever! This past weekend, people were camping in line for hours and not for some concert or sporting event….but for the new iPhones! On the other side of that coin, you might consider much less glamorous endeavors such stopping the BP oil spill or leading an effort to suck waste out of a manufacturing line or supply chain. On one hand, an organization is looking to grow revenue and tackle new, innovative unknowns. On the other, they are looking to solve a problem that has their business at risk.
Enter the project manager. With so much on the line, this Swiss Army Knife of leadership must make something special happen! I am not exaggerating either and that is the problem…so many folks have dummied down project management to a series of checklists, that the value is being sucked right out. Every project manager must fight the urge to fall into the monotony of their respective methodology and tools! I implore every PM to start embracing the leadership role they have been placed. You never know when you are going to save the company millions of dollars (and jobs!) or launch the next great innovation.
As a PM you must embrace…
- That you are an entrepreneur – Within your respective organization, your project is a new business and must start acting like an entrepreneur….think differently, leverage resources in ways that may be new, and take ownership of what you’re doing. The old premise of “I delivered it on time and under budget” is simply just good enough and good enough is not enough! You must take time to understand the market, understand the strategy, and believe in what you are doing.
- That you are a leader – To many project managers are falling back on the scope document or defaulting to the stakeholder, often because of a lack in confidence or knowledge. If you treated your project as mentioned above, then you will know the various levers to pull and drivers behind the scope. Rather than hosting yet another meeting, that drives data gathering and waits on schedules, you can ask the tough questions of your team and bring recommendations to the executive committee. Be a leader that people want to follow, support, and have confidence in! Be a leader that drives the project.
[Queue Music, then come back and read]
Listen up everyone…. Remember, projects are tackling the unknown or they are solving problems that others (consultants, specialists, executives, etc) could not solve before. Others have often come before you and failed! Therefore, YOU ARE the one that is going to lead them to victory. The opportunities we face as project managers are amazing opportunities and someone else is waiting for you to fail…waiting for their shot! It is time for Project Managers, everywhere, to stand up and take back the leadership role that their organizations need! Refuse to be reduced to a meeting scheduler! Refuse to be minimized to a scribe! You are the leader! You are the hero that your organization needs! You are the last stop before failure or missed opportunity. Rise up and be a project leader! You have it in you, I know you do! Learn to negotiate with vendors, improve your communications skills, and lead your team! You owe it to them to be prepared every day, organized and deliberate, and bringing your A-Game everyday. As the leader people want to follow, you don’t get a day off! So, get your gear on and be ready for the battles that will come your way. Focus and make it happen! I believe in you! It isn’t easy, but I know you can do it! Now get out there and make history!