I need to prepare for a lecture on project management. I have been allocated one hour on the subject. I am giving it to two groups of MBA students that will receive, in total, one and a half days of education on the subject. This might seem rather limited at first, but when you think about it, of all the things you need to learn about in business, perhaps project management is not so important? After all there are so many companies that do not adopt a project management methodology per se and they still seem to survive.

So what should I tell my sudents? I have been advised to bring in as much practical experience as possible. (Anyone one who has attended one my presentations will know that, a lecture from me can only be based on real life and that I am not one for too many theories) 😉

My first thoughts are to tackle the following questions:

1. Why do we need project management at all?
2. Why do projects so often fail?
3. What is the difference between successful and unsuccessful projects?
4. Why is it that so many projects, even if they do deliver their goals and objectives, still do not deliver real benefit to the company that commissioned them?

The answers to the above questions, to me, seem obvious. But I know from experience that too many managers, even the ones who commission projects regularly, do not dare to tackle the hidden truth that they convey. After all, if you make your living managing whole rafts of projects, it is probably not in your short term career interests to set about cutting out all the useless projects to begin with?

To me projects are a bit like roses: you need to prune them back at least once a year, cutting them right back to the stem. And when you see new projects shooting up from unexpected places, you need to be rigorous and cut them back too. A well defined project that has its roots in good business sense, and that has only one objective to deliver: ‘real value to the client’, is the only project worth making space for. Cut back all the rest that pose the risk of getting in the way or interfering and give the good one all the attention and nourishment you can.

When it comes down to it, only the projects that were rigorously challenged before they were started, and where everyone gave 100% commitment to ensure their success, and were lead by a steering group that were resolute to sticking to the original objectives – are the only projects that turn out to be successful in the long term.

Now if you want to know the detailed answers to my questions above, you have three alternatives: 1. read my book, 2. attend my lecture or 3, wait for two weeks when I may decide to give a resume of the speech in my blog, assuming I have the answers by then!

Have a safe week,

Harley