The tipping point between effective change leadership and the role project managers play in managing projects

This guest post is by John Roberts from myProteus, director of project management consultancy myProteus.
Project managers must be able to deal with the following factors: clarity of corporate direction, impact of project complexity, and effectiveness of project sponsorship. Today’s project managers are quite different from what they were 3 years ago. John Roberts lists the top 10 skills project managers should have.
Organizations of all sizes and shapes are focused on determining their key business initiatives for the coming year. Given the current regulatory and economic climate, few organisations have the resources or funding to meet demand. Prioritising is critical in this environment. Our research has shown that very few organisations can do this well, leading to significant time and money waste and additional pressures for project managers.
Project sponsors used to be able to spend very little time on their projects because the nature of the change was simpler in the past. As a side activity, senior executives could have productive discussions with their teams. Today’s world is much more complex and organisations must deliver change faster, better, and cheaper. The involvement of senior executives/ sponsors can make or destroy projects. Our recent survey found that 70% of sponsors don’t have enough time to participate and that 75% have not received any training or coaching on how to be a leader or sponsor of change. This problem is compounded by the fact that 90% of project managers fail to communicate with their sponsors on a daily basis.
Project managers must help others succeed
We are at the tipping point in project management and project managers. Not only do organizations need to give greater direction on their priorities, and project sponsors need more involvement, but project managers also need to ‘go over the dark side’ and help business people shape their projects and support them to carry out their roles more effectively.
Project managers must recognize that what was good five years ago may not be the best in today’s world. They must be different from the rest, lead by example, and invest in their own capabilities. To be more exceptional in the 10 areas listed below, project managers must have at least the minimum.
You must be able to account the “mad world” in which projects live, and how they are approached and planned. Project management must include assumptions management.
Facilitate the identification of key stakeholders at the beginning of a project to determine “what success looks like” and let them be more focused on ‘getting on with their lives”.
To quickly show how the outcomes will be achieved, use appropriate planning methods. Right to Left Planning and Transition State Planning are more effective than traditional left-to-right planning.
It is important to clearly define the project’s overall risk exposure and to help key stakeholders make risk tradeoffs, rather than relying on a risk log.
Produce project reporting/visibility that is appropriate for everyone involved in change. This will allow everyone to make timely decisions and not be distracted by producing long, irrelevant information.
Manage a complex web and third parties efficiently, and spend less time’marking their homework’.
Engage with key stakeholders and business teams to ensure buy-in for the project.
Establish a common view about the overall health of your project so that everyone has the same view of what’s important, and what priorities should be addressed at this stage of the lifecycle. Also, follow a governance process that is less bli.