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Correct but not Sufficient

Ejact Project management has matured with many professional organizations, certifications, and bodies of knowledge, yet we still hear of numerous project failures. What has gone wrong; is project management broken? I don’t think it is broken in terms of any of it being fundamentally wrong, but certainly flawed in the view that good project management ensures success.

You see, what project management with all its plans, estimates and reporting omits is a good recognition for the huge impact people play in projects. Consider for a moment the roadblocks we encounter on projects, the most common and toughest to resolve are people related. Yet the classic project management guides focus more on Earned Value than Influencing, more on KPI’s than Knowledge Transfer, more on Project Tracking than Team Performance. Project management may be correct, but it is not sufficient for creating success.

Like considering only speed limits and traffic signals, but ignoring other traffic movement when driving, we will run into people, have accidents, and not get to our destination on time with such a myopic view of the big picture. A large portion of the missing part of project success is Emotional Intelligence (EI) and the EI skills most needed by project managers include:

•    Communication Skills
•    Persuasive Leadership
•    Conflict Management
•    Change Management
•    Adaptive Personality

For more information on the importance of EI for project managers and how these skills are applied see this recent White Paper.


Jonathan Nieto

Interesting view point.

Jonathan Rasmusson

Excellent post Mike. Couldn't agree more.

You can 'be doing everything right' and still fail (no matter how much earned value or KPIs you accumulate).

Thanks for the post.

Mike Griffiths

Hey Jonathan,

Good to hear from you again, thanks for dropping by.

Yes, it is soft stuff (people) that is hard and the hard stuff (process) that is easy.
Leadership, like enthusiasm, cannot be taught, but it can be caught. Lets keep casting ideas and see who catches them and where they run with them.


Harris Silverman - Business Coach

It's clearly true that the people aspect of project management is a huge part of it. Personally I wouldn't say that project management is correct but that you also have to focus on emotional intelligence and the people aspect; I would say that the people aspect is integral to project management. You cannot expect to be successful without paying attention to communications, persuading, managing conflict, negotiating, etc., and every project manager should have these skills.

Harris Silverman

Stan Yanakiev, PMP

Mike, your post touches a nerve: PM technique is not sufficient - it's about people. This is more and more apparent in today's knowledge economy and innovative and creative projects that call for other skills than traditional technique.

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