When we think about project management, entrepreneurship might not be the first word that comes to mind.
I’ve written about project management bringing predictability to uncertainty, and while predictability is a good thing, it usually does not fit well with our notions of entrepreneurship. Conservatism is not a bad characteristic for a project manager as we wouldn’t want to take unnecessary risks with our company’s investments, but this trait can often evidence itself through playing it overly safe or attempting to control and eliminate all risk.
So what are a few of the characteristics I would encourage project managers to embrace in the coming year?
Be the CEO for your project: Just as chief executives are accountable to their boards for increasing shareholder value, project managers should adopt the mindset of delivering value above all else. Eschew the “Today, my jurisdiction ends here” attitude and initiate those tough conversations with team members or even the project customer when they are too focused on the triple constraint instead of paving the way for post-project value realization. Emphasize and drive for frequent value realization – no organization has the luxury of waiting a year or more to recoup some of their project investments.
Evangelize the vision: If you don’t understand or buy into why your organization is funding your project, no one else will. Your customer should have communicated the end state vision in compelling, simple terms but if they haven’t, own the creation of that vision. Then, help them pitch it to key stakeholders and your team members and use every meeting as an opportunity to talk up the organizational and personal benefits of the project.
Take educated risks: Don’t bet your project on any one roll of the dice, but when issues emerge look for what opportunities might be exploited. This requires a high-level of mindfulness for those project managers who are used to perceiving the cup as half empty so start with small risks and issues and build up from there.
Never, ever give up: Be willing to lose a battle here or there if it helps you win the war. Successful entrepreneurs are comfortable in dealing with failure but are able to inspire their team members to dust themselves off and re-engage. Just because a key stakeholder is negative today doesn’t mean she always will be. Your team will take their cues from you – if you act defeated, they will be.
Invest in yourself: It can be easy to use stress or heavy workload as excuses for not continuing to expand your knowledge and competency, but sacrificing your personal development impacts your project performance as much as it does to yourself. The best entrepreneurs are excellent at focusing on their top priorities but always take the time to renew themselves.
Get to know your customers: For those of us who manage internal projects, it can be easy to put the blinders on and just focus on the needs and wants of our immediate sponsor and key stakeholders. Get out there and meet the real customers impacted by your project’s delivery, see the world through their eyes, and then bring the outside in with your team by sharing those insights.
“An entrepreneur assumes the risk and is dedicated and committed to the success of whatever he or she undertakes.” – Victor Kiam