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Do Your Projects Have a Strategic Focus?

Putting your own project in the hot seat can prove challenging on both a personal and an organizational level, but as David Wakeman of Voices on Project Management writes, the only way to be truly strategic as a PM lies in the ability to ask…


“Why?” The question must be treated like a knife blade. Although most organizations could use a fair amount of “cutting” in terms of separating useless goals (that gobble up time and money) from what is valuable to organizational strategy, to regularly question the status quo is also a potentially career-damaging move. But this is exactly how you become more strategic as a PM. It can help you frame the individual project within the wider strategic context, and that is a career-enhancing move.

All is Fair in Love and Projects

Similarly, the project-in-progress may be at a risk of drifting out of alignment with its organization. In this situation, the PM must focus inward on the project itself, asking tough questions about where course corrections might be made. Or, toughest of all, it may be necessary to question the validity of the project itself. If a large degree of time and effort has already been invested, this might be akin to ending a long-term relationship. Love hurts!

Communicating with a Broader Net

Seeing the ‘big picture’ is impossible if you are only focused on your individual contribution to the whole. In order to gain access to the birds-eye view, it is essential to leverage your information-gathering skills in the form of communication. However, casting a broad net comes with its share of downsides, as Wakeman explains:

As with most things in project management, communication is a two-way street and loaded with possible pain points and missteps. As a project manager looking to deliver on the strategic promise of your projects, your communications should always be focused on information you can use to take action and move your project along.

A focus on understanding the project’s material impacts and an eagle eye for better decision-making strategies, with both stakeholders and with team members, can mitigate the excesses of broader information-seeking, ultimately leading to a more valuable version of the project.

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About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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