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Do You Own Your Project?

Au12prize1bMy blog buddy, Phil Gerbyshak, is moving into his new house today after years of apartment dwelling.  Congratulations to Phil and Kim for taking that big leap into home ownership, and I wish you both many years of happiness and prosperity as you "make it great" at home!

Phil's move from renter to owner started me thinking about project managers and other project team members.  How many people on projects are "just renting space" rather than actually owning their projects?  Ownership is at the heart of the Carpe Factum mentality.  One cannot seize an accomplishment if one doesn't have a feeling of ownership over the results and the process to get there.

Borrowing a page from Mike Wagner's play book on brand ownership and also looking at the four phases of the project life cycle, let's see how well you're doing on project ownership.

  1. Is your Project Initiation RELEVANT?  Have you done the due diligence to select a project that is important enough to the organization to be on the books?  Many organizations have a lot of "really swell ideas" that are merely renting space on the project radar screen but nobody seems to care because they don't contribute to the organization's mission and strategy.  Make sure that your project fits BEFORE it becomes a project.
  2. Is your Project Planning DIFFERENT?  Too many project managers and executive sponsors rush into the execution phase, barely armed with a task list because the perceived pressure to get things done is so great.  When writing Race Through The Forest, much energy was spent detailing the initiation and planning phases.  If a robust project plan is created, a strong risk management structure is implemented, and a mature infrastructure of documentation and standards and change management is communicated and followed, your project will be noticed for being different from the others.  You'll be managing your project instead of merely reacting to it.
  3. Is your Project Execution TRUTHFUL?  Because few people spend time on adequate planning, considerable fiction-writing talent is wasted on project issues logs and status reports.  A true project owner will admit when things are not going well, not to "indict the guilty" but to identify the problem and solve it.  Be up front with your project stakeholders; your integrity and reputation depend on it.
  4. Is Your Project Closure INVITING?  You and your team have spent all this time managing the project and now it's time to implement it.  Have you adequatly involved the users and stakeholders of this project solution so that they feel involved and invited to indulge in the bounty of your efforts?  Many projects fail during this phase because the project team forgot to invite those who would be using the project solution by providing change management, communication, and training.

Is Your Project YOURS?  Do you own it?  Or are you merely renting space in a cubicle until something better comes along?

NOTE:  Mike Wagner will be presenting a workshop on Owning your Project Brand at the Project Management Institute Central Iowa Chapter's Professional Development Day on October 20, 2006.  I would highly recommend you register for the event and come and hear him and many other great speakers.

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