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How to become a successful Project Manager?

I have been asked so many times:"What do successful project managers do?" What makes them successful?

Different Project Managers have different approaches to leading successful projects, but there are some commonalities.

Success and failure are constantly on project manager's mind, especially considering the volatile environment we live in in 2015.It's a challenge to lead and execute complex projects while continuously facing unexpected events. Let's face it, in spite of all traditional and modern techniques a large percentage of projects still run significantly over budget, behind the schedule, and deliver only a fraction of their original requirements.

What methodology should be applied to give them more flexibility in order to achieve better results?

Last month I read an interesting research paper from the MIT Sloan "What Successful Project Managers Do"

Through their research, the authors of the paper have identified four roles that project managers have to assume to cope with unexpected results and be successful:

  • Develop collaboration.
  • Integrate planning and review with learning.
  • Prevent major disruptions.
  • Maintain forward momentum.

Two of the roles are intention driven and two are event driven, with each role assumed on its own time schedule throughout the life of the project.

We put together the graphic below to help "visualize" these roles and the timing of their execution.

Management scholar Henry Mintzberg argues that today's managers must be people oriented, information oriented and action oriented.

In contrast, the two prevailing project management approaches, the traditional approach and the agile approach, do not require that project managers encompass all three orientations. The traditional approach is primarily intention driven and stresses reliance on information, whereas the agile approach, is primarily event driven, and stresses people and action.

The authors argue that the successful project managers are both intention and event driven and embrace all three orientations.

They say "Developing collaboration requires them to be people oriented.

Integrating planning and review with learning requires them to be information oriented. Preventing major disruptions requires them to be action oriented. Finally, maintaining forward momentum, which is pursued throughout a project, requires them to adopt all three orientations."

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