The honest question
Let me ask you a very honest and direct question:
Do you believe in your project?
Please don’t answer lightly. This is a serious discussion that can have a significant impact on the success rate of your project. I want to know if you believe in your project. Or are you just there doing the job of a project manager?
The power and limitation of tools and techniques
If you read most project management books, you will learn in detail various processes, tools, and techniques that will help you manage all phases of a project. If you also read some leadership books, you will get a description of even more tools and techniques that you can use to manage projects. (Honestly, I even find that some leadership books are actually only talking about management skills under a different label, but that would be for another post.)
This is all very useful and great knowledge. But it is not always enough.
Beyond the machine
Reading a book on project management makes it look like a machine. The success formula is simple: you will be successful if you apply all these processes, tools, and techniques correctly. If it is so simple, I always wonder why we were not able to automate project management.
Let’s be honest and discuss real project management. We all know from experience that the reality is more complicated. A project plan is at best an approximation of the reality. It is necessary and useful to have a plan, but reality will still be what it will be. Things will happen. Unless the project is very simple, issues will appear and will need to be managed. Much analysis will be required. They will support decision-making and navigating through the tough times. However, the idea that analysis alone will be sufficient is naïve at best.
If you don’t believe in the project, it will show in these challenging moments.
You have to believe in your project
At some point, you as the project manager will have to believe sincerely in the project. This belief will act as energy and support you throughout the life of the project.
It will have an impact on the behavior of your team. They will have more energy to solve problems; team members are more likely to show a high level of energy if you have a high level of energy. They are more likely to be committed to the project if you are too. Of course, commitment is easy when everything is going just fine. Success is not that hard to bear. But other moments will challenge your resilience. And then people will really know if you are only there as the manager, or if you do believe in the project.
It goes beyond managing the team. The level of your intensity will show in many other activities. It will impact the effort you invest in the project, and the quality you deliver. If you believe in the project, you will want to find the best solutions, not just a good solution that pleases the client.
When you will discuss the project with the project sponsor, you will develop a different relationship if you believe in the project. Your presentation to the governance body will be more convincing and impactful. You will seek timely decisions because it matters for the success of the project.
Have you ever seen a project manager who doesn’t believe in his or her project? I have, and more than once, unfortunately. We hear a lot of discussions lately about the importance of a good project sponsor. It is often said that a sponsor that is engaged in the project and ready to do his or her part to support the project will significantly increase the success rate of projects.
Having a project manager who believes in the project is equally important.
Your project needs your full support
We should aim as project managers to maximize the value delivered by our projects. It requires professional skills, such as knowing all the processes, tools, and techniques of project management. But given the complexity of projects, we need more than that.
We need every member of the team to believe in the project. And they are looking at you, the project manager, to set the example. As a project manager, a leader of this project, demonstrate that you do believe in the project.
So… Today, here are my questions for you:
- Do you believe in your project?
- Do you demonstrate in your behavior and communications, analysis, and decisions, that you believe in the success of the project, despite all challenges?
For more brilliant insights, check out Michel’s website: Project-Aria
Additionally, check out his book, Leadership Toolbox for Project Managers: Achieve better results in a dynamic world: http://www.project-aria.ca/go/leadership-toolbox-for-project-managers/