Persistence by CEO required

These real stories illustrate how a CEO successfully builds a project-based organization.  The first story is about persistence. Executive Shuffle Projects at a high tech manufacturing company were missing schedules, blowing budgets, and not delivering expected benefits. Worse, management wasn’t finding out about project surprises until just before the projects were supposed to deliver. They […]

Engage leaders in projects: the CEO’s role

My previous post described the first two aspects of a CEO’s role in a project based organization.   The remaining aspects are to engage leaders at the right points in projects and to use systems thinking for consistency and repeatability. Engage leaders Ensure that key projects have effective sponsors.  I think of a sponsor as […]

Project culture: the CEO’s role

“What is the CEO’s role in a project-based organization?” Recently a group of CEO’s who run SMB businesses (from $5M to $400M USD in annual revenues) asked me to address that question. I thought through the list of organizations that I’ve helped enhance project capabilities.   Five common threads emerged despite the wide variety of industries […]

Transformation projects need early victories

Creating early victories is essential in transformation projects. Recently the Transformation Center asked me to run a workshop and some coaching for the current cohort of Oregon’s Clinical Innovation Fellows.  Sponsored by the Oregon Health Authority, these clinicians spend a year learning about transformational leadership and working on projects that have the potential to transform […]

How good is good enough?

Occasionally I speak to a master’s class working towards a Master of Science in Global Leadership degree. Recently I was asked to comment on a student’s analysis of his organization’s project management maturity. That got me curious about the global distribution of maturity levels, so I went to my reference shelf to check one of […]

A delegation dilemma

John is the visionary and articulate chief executive at one of my clients. Unfortunately, he gives vague directions to his teams, believing that he is empowering them with freedom. When the results don’t satisfy him, he swoops in to micro-manage. His people feel whipsawed, while John is frustrated at their slow progress toward realizing the […]

Make your sausage behind closed doors

You may enjoy eating sausage, but probably less so after you watch the messy process of making it. Similarly, the week to week progress of even successful projects is filled with messy ups, downs, and course corrections. Most high-level stakeholders don’t need to see this normal noise. The project team should take care to not […]

Uninformed sponsors

“Uninformed sponsors – sponsors in name only – are of little help to project managers when obstacles arise.” So says Eric Verzuh, one of my favorite authors on projects. Verzuh continues by citing a study performed within a Fortune 500 corporation. “This study determined that having a known and active sponsor was the number one […]

How to create an environment of accountability

Often leaders ask me how to improve accountability within their project-based organization. However, that leader may actually be contributing to the accountability problem without realizing it, often because he communicates his expectations poorly or not at all. I believe that accountability starts with clear communication. You can’t hold someone accountable unless they first understand what […]

A controlling or micromanaging leadership style doesn’t work well

… especially on projects that must create and apply complex knowledge. Good leaders facilitate more than they bark orders. They share power and information. They build an environment where teamwork, trust and prudent risk-taking are the norm.   But when it is necessary, a good leader also drives accountability, makes hard and unpopular decisions, and pushes […]