Posts Tagged ‘strategies for project sponsorship’

Project Managers are from Mars and Project Sponsors are from Venus

February 28, 2014

‘We are unique individuals with unique experiences’ John Gray, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus

Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus is a book written by an American author and relationship counsellor John Gray. It has sold more than 50 million copies (yes that is one or two more than my own best-selling book The Lazy Project Manager) and spent 121 weeks on the US bestseller list.

The book and its central metaphor have become a part of popular culture and so I found myself, as I thought about the ongoing Campaign for Real Project Sponsors that I began back in 2011, that maybe we could think of project managers and project sponsors in similar terms.

The book states that most of common relationship problems between men and women are a result of fundamental psychological differences between the genders, which the author exemplifies by means of its eponymous metaphor: that men and women are from distinct planets – men from Mars and women from Venus –- and that each gender is acclimated to its own planet’s society and customs, but not to those of the other.

Now it is possible that this comes in to play if say the project manager is a man and the project sponsor is a woman – as in the book Strategies for Project Sponsorship (Management Concepts Press) by Vicki James, Ron Rosenhead and myself – to aid the understanding in the book of the two inter-playing roles we (a suggestion from the lady from Venus, Vicki, actually) agreed to separate the roles by gender. But let’s not go down that path for now – let us assume that gender plays no part in this and that the two roles, the two people, are both from project ‘Planet’ (sorry maybe that was just a tad too corny but you get my meaning).

For project success many sources of authority[1] boldly declare that good project sponsorship is critical but sadly the reality of the situation is less than perfect. Often—very often—project sponsors will have received no training or support for their critical role. In Strategies for Project Sponsorship we confirmed that with 85% of organisations declaring that they ‘had sponsorship’ in place but 83% confirmed the worrying truth that they did nothing to support or train or guide these project sponsors.

Many speak of the ‘accidental project manager’ but the reality is that the current generation of project sponsors can also be considered the ‘accidental project sponsors’. Although they may not have any background in project management or project-based activity, having reached a senior level within their organisation based on other achievements, they have assumed or have been given that role. Remember that there is not currently any official body of knowledge for project sponsors to help them understand best project sponsorship practices.

And yet project sponsors don’t just need to support projects; good project sponsors also support the project manager and project team. It is said that a project is one small step for a project sponsor and a giant leap for the project manager. Wouldn’t we all feel so much better if we knew that the project sponsor’s one small step would ensure that the complementary giant leap would lead to a safe and secure final landing?

The project sponsor/project manager partnership is one that really needs to be a good partnership built on a relationship of trust and mutual objectives.

‘If I seek to fulfil my own needs at the expense of my partner, we are sure to experience unhappiness, resentment, and conflict. The secret of forming a successful relationship is for both partners to win’ John Gray

Project sponsorship is not about an ‘either/or’ situation but a ‘win/win’ for both the project sponsor and the project manager, it is, after all, about the project and therefore about the business benefit.

If we look at the flipside of project success we can see this inter-connection and the consequences of getting it wrong:

Project Failure

This is a list of top project failure issues and clearly the lack of good project sponsorship can contribute to the unrealistic goals, the poor alignment, lack of resources and lack of leadership – in this case the project manager from Mars has one heck of a gaping hole to try and fill. Equally with a lack of good project management this contributes another vacuum of leadership, team engagement issues and poor risk management – in this case the project sponsor from Venus has no hope of dealing with the consequential impact.

In the book we found that the best of project sponsors operated in a very balanced way, being involved in the project, being objective about the project, being supportive of the project and project manager, and being reactive to project needs. The project manager clearly needs to be as equally balanced.

We also found that the best project managers understood what a good project sponsor should do and how they, as project managers, needed to behave within the reality of the partnership that they had, and with the project sponsor that they were ‘given’. Like the saying goes ‘you can pick your friends but you can’t pick your relatives’ it has to be appreciated that the same is true of project sponsors.

Each project sponsor (and each project manager) will be different, will be imperfect, will have strengths and weaknesses but if the combined relationship of the two roles, the two people, both understand each other’s responsibilities and capabilities then the best balance possible can be achieved for an effective and positive relationship (and subsequent project success).

‘Relationships thrive when communication reflects a ready acceptance and respect of people’s innate differences’ John Gray

If you work in an organisation that needs to develop your project sponsors from Venus (and maybe also your project managers from Mars) then maybe check out the book, or contact me to find out how I can help. And spread the word, we do really need everyone to join the Campaign for Real Project Sponsors; there is a lot (a lot) of work to be done.

As an example, the latest PMI Project Management Body of Knowledge[2] (Edition 5) is a valuable and extensive document of reference with 185,230 words of wisdom crammed inside. Sadly of those words only 159 refer to project sponsorship at all, I’ll raise it to 179 words by generously including the 20 words in the glossary that refer to ‘organisational sponsorship’ – I am being generous as it mentions project sponsorship as one word ‘sponsor’s’ (and Project Sponsor is not in the glossary as a term). Anyway that means this most widely referenced body of knowledge has a mere 0.01% content related to the ‘most important person in the project…’[3]

OK I hear what you are saying, Peter that is the ‘Project Management’ body of knowledge so don’t be so harsh. Well maybe I might take the point (actually I wouldn’t, at the very least we should see a whole lot more about how the project manager needs to interact with the project sponsor but for the sake of this particular argument …) so let’s move across to the perspective of the organisation.

The OPM3 / Organizational Project Management Maturity Model[4] looks at the overall maturity of project based activity inside and organisation so there is no escaping the project sponsor on this one is there?

Well it seems that the answer to that question is surprisingly a big fat ‘Yes’.

Out of the 151 Self-Assessment Measures only 1 is related in any way to project sponsorship; ‘Are the sponsor and other stakeholders involved in setting a direction for the project that is in the best interest of all stakeholders?’

At least it is question number 1 on the list.

And of the 600 Best Practice measurements only 3 reference project sponsorship, numbers 1440, 1450 and 5460.

See what I mean? Still don’t think we have a problem?

This needs to be taken seriously and changes need to happen, fast.

There is some fantastic work going on with and for project managers, we have landed on Mars and we are setting up home and making it look dammed good; but the balance is all on that side. Venus, on the other hand is pretty much undeveloped and in need of a real make-over.

SFPS_Book_Cover

You can find out more at www.strategies4sponsors.com and you can also join the LinkedIn group – Projects Sponsors, to continue the discussion. Or contact me at peter.b.taylor@btinternet.com

‘Strategies for Project Sponsorship is a unique blend of practical, step-by-step tools; hard-won wisdom from the PM trenches; and solid, research-based recommendations. As a PM author reading this book, I found myself in awe of how nimbly the authors weaved together seemingly disparate elements: here citing research findings, there providing war stories or case study examples, and finally pivoting to morph these into powerful, ready-to-use tools. As someone who’s both managed projects and trained project managers for more than three decades, I know this for certain: This book should be in every project manager’s tool kit and in every project sponsor’s briefcase’ Michael Greer

Peter Taylor is the author of two best-selling books on ‘Productive Laziness’ – ‘The Lazy Winner’ and ‘The Lazy Project Manager’.

In the last 4 years he has focused on writing and lecturing with over 200 presentations around the world in over 20 countries and with new books out including ‘The Lazy Project Manager and the Project from Hell’, ‘Strategies for Project Sponsorship’, ‘Leading Successful PMOs’, and ‘The Thirty-Six Stratagems: A Modern Interpretation of a Strategy Classic’ – with a number of other book projects currently underway.

He has been described as ‘perhaps the most entertaining and inspiring speaker in the project management world today’ and he also acts as an independent consultant working with some of the major organizations in the world coaching executive sponsors, PMO leaders and project managers.

His mission is to teach as many people as possible that it is achievable to ‘work smarter and not harder’ and to still gain success in the battle of the work/life balance.

More information can be found at www.thelazyprojectmanager.com and www.thelazywinner.com  – and through his free podcasts in iTunes.

  • Keynote
  • Presentations and Lectures
  • Master of Ceremonies
  • Inspirational Workshops
  • Training
  • Coaching
  • Authoring


[1] Check out Project Management Institute, Inc. Pulse of the Profession™, March 2013 and CHAOS Manifesto: The Year of the Executive Sponsor (Standish) 2012 and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC: Insights and Trends: Current Portfolio, Programme, and Project Management Practices 2012 – The third global survey on the current state of project management as just a few.

[2]. The PMBOK® Guide—Fifth Edition is the preeminent global standard for project management from PMI. It provides project managers with the fundamental practices needed to achieve organizational results and excellence in the practice of project management.

[3] One of PMI’s foundational standards, the Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3®) – Third Edition is a guide to achieving organizational project maturity.

 

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Gaining access to an Unavailable Sponsor

October 22, 2013

Gaining Access to an Unavailable Sponsor…

…goes far beyond talking the Sponsor’s Assistant into rescheduling the calendar!  It involves a fundamental shift in the sponsor’s perspective.  But how?

If you want to learn the Number 1 way to shift the sponsor’s view of you and many more effective techniques to deal with difficult sponsor behavior, register for a complimentary webinar called “Sponsor Influence Strategies– Masterclass” available for just one more week.

You’ll meet a colleague of mine, Kimberlee Williams who has advanced experience in change management, having led the global change management program for one of the largest, most respected pharmaceutical companies in the world (she’s also a former PMO leader and BlackBelt) and is now sharing her knowledge about dealing with difficult sponsors directly through this webinar. WEBINAR BOOKING

She’ll disclose her personal advice for dealing with the four mindset and behavior shifts that will accelerate a better relationship with your sponsor so you can get them to do what’s essential for project success. It also covers common mistakes and the Top 5 sponsor problems (including exactly what to do about them).

You ‘ll  receive several downloads including a very useful framework that will help you transform your role with your sponsor from ‘hands-on’ to ‘strategic advisor’, program action guide, and others. In addition, you are going to receive exclusive access to a free 3-part video series (1.5 hours) that dives into the other six project ‘people elements’ you must manage in order to be successful.  You can watch the videos yourself at your leisure and are also welcome to share them with others on your team.

Peter

PS: Don’t forget,  Kimberlee is offering a nice bonus with this program.  It’s not for sale anywhere and would probably be worth at least $65-70 USD if you were going to buy it.  You’ll get access to a free 3-part video series (1.5 hours) which explains the ‘7 critical people elements’ that most contribute to project failure rates, then covers her best tips to solve those.  It also tells you the exact technique to reframe your sponsor. You can watch the videos yourself and can share them with others on your team. CHECK IT OUT

PPS: In that program, you can learn how to post a simple reply to the video that could win you $700 USD, paid in November. WATCH AND WIN

Is this you?

October 16, 2013

One of the surveys for my book – Strategies for Project Sponsorship – showed a startling statistic:

85% of companies surveyed said they had project sponsorship in place

83% of companies stated that they did nothing to train, support, guide, or help their sponsors in any way at all

And yet 100% of companies stated that having a good sponsor in place was critical to project success!

Do you recognise this imbalance in your company?

If so, and you want some quick and effective new ways to deal with your sponsor, you’ll want attend a complimentary webinar called ‘Sponsor Influence Strategies- Masterclass’.

Unlike some other programs that tell you to go-change-your-sponsor, this one focuses on things that are 100% under your control…the four mindset and behavior shifts you have to make in order to influence your sponsor and get what you want. It also covers common mistakes and the Top 5 sponsor problems (including exactly what to do about them).

You’ll get several downloads including a very useful framework that will help you transform your role with your sponsor from ‘hands-on’ to ‘strategic advisor’, program action guide, and others. In addition, you are going to receive exclusive access to a free 3-part video series (1.5 hours) that dives into the other six project ‘people elements’ you must manage in order to be successful.  You can watch the videos yourself at your leisure and are also welcome to share them with others on your team.

Kimberlee has advanced experience in change management, having led the global change management program for one of the largest, most respected pharmaceutical companies in the world (she’s also a former PMO leader and BlackBelt) and is now sharing her knowledge about dealing with difficult sponsors directly through THIS FREE WEBINAR

PS – The webinar is only available for a short time, so make a bit of room in your schedule in the next few days and sign up today.

As a reminder, it is no cost to you and you can register HERE NOW

Reviews in for Strategies for Project Sponsorship

July 9, 2013

Thanks Jon Hyde for this review on Amazon UK:

Strategies For Project Sponsorship (SPS) is a fine (and entertaining!) book by project management gurus Vicki James, Ron Rosenhead and Peter Taylor, which plugs a gaping hole in industry literature by comprehensively, pragmatically, and concisely addressing all aspects of project sponsorship. A quick scan of Amazon reveals just a handful of other books with a similar focus, compared with project management titles which run into the tens of thousands! Coupled with the fact that effective project sponsorship is consistently cited as a major project success factor, we’re left scratching our heads as to why this area has remained so neglected for so long – BUT the wait is over!

SPS is a well written, well structured, waffle free zone, brimming with practical advice for project managers and sponsors alike. The book covers the entire project life cycle and clearly explains how the roles and responsibilities of the project sponsor should interface with those of the project manager at each stage of the cycle. The authors have helpfully split the book into three parts: I) For the Project Manager; II) For the Sponsor; III) For the Organisation. This is great as sponsors are far more likely to read their specific section (everyone loves to feel special, right?) – 27 pages of solid gold – than to find the time to read an entire book.

The book benefits from the combined authorship of three industry giants who have a vast amount of cross sector, international experience between them. I particularly enjoyed the real world case studies that are presented throughout the book, which bring concepts and strategies to life. The material presented is backed up by references to some serious research, notably The Standish Group’s 2012 CHAOS report, The Year of The Executive Sponsor, as well as the results of surveys conducted by the authors – detailed results of which are presented in the appendices.

I liked the book’s coverage of soft skills e.g. how to bond with and influence your sponsor and project team; how to work with challenging sponsors; how to upskill your sponsor! The authors point out that many experienced sponsors may be `Too cool for school’, and instead propose more subtle (education by stealth!) approaches to addressing the sponsorship skills and knowledge gap.

Overall, `Strategies for project sponsorship’ is highly readable (only took me a few hours) and frequently had me chuckling out loud – a most unusual and welcome quality in a management book! The authors conclude with a call to action to join the `Campaign for Real Project Sponsors`: Well Vicki, Ron, Peter, you had me at hello! The book is also complemented by a LinkedIn Group of great people, devoted to the cause, that I’m pretty sure you’ll want to join as soon as you put it down.

Thanks Mike Clayton for this review on Amazon UK:

Strategies for Project Sponsorship addresses a vital and much neglected area of project management. It is a large subject area and the authors tackle it from two principal perspectives: from that of the Project Manager looking for tips about how to “handle” their sponsor, and from that of the sponsor focusing on their responsibilities and how to handle them. There is a third, organisational perspective, which is by far the weakest.

The PM perspective is well handled, with lots of good tips, although I did find that parts of the “working with challenging sponsors” chapter sometimes came across as flippant and thin. I think this first part is why most of the audience will buy the book, and they will get a lot of useful tips.

For me, it is part 2 – for the sponsor – that is the most valuable part of the book and I hope that many project sponsors will take up the authors’ challenge to improve sponsorship skills and practices. For this reason, I found part 3 – for the organisation – the big disappointment. This is the main justification and, in parts, impassioned plea, that the authors put for good sponsorship. They are spot on. So, I would really like to have seen more on the strategic role of project sponsors in organisational governance and in the process of selecting the right portfolio of projects.

This is a good book, that could easily have been a great book. It is a tactical manual with a lot of good ideas, that has missed out on being a classic. It is the only book of its kind, however, so I recommend it highly, and hope it does well enough to merit a second edition. If that happens, then my plea is for more strategic focus, to supplement the good tactical support it offers.

Thanks Michael Greer for this review on Amazon US:

Strategies for Project Sponsorship is a unique blend of practical, step-by-step tools; hard-won wisdom from the PM trenches; and solid, research-based recommendations. As a PM author reading this book, I found myself in awe of how nimbly the authors weaved together seemingly disparate elements: here citing research findings, there providing war stories or case study examples, and finally pivoting to morph these into powerful, ready-to-use tools. As someone who’s both managed projects and trained project managers for more than three decades, I know this for certain: This book should be in every project manager’s tool kit and in every project sponsor’s briefcase.

Here are six reasons I believe this book will become an instant PM classic:
1. It shares powerful PM wisdom, based on real-world experience, regarding the subtle and nuanced process of sponsoring a project.
2. It provides insights that are typically unavailable to project managers without spending years gaining experience and acquiring scar tissue!
3. It provides practical, easy-to-use tools for project managers.
4. It does what every project manager has always wanted to do: It gently, but firmly, educates project sponsors about their crucial role.
5. It provides practical, easy-to-use tools for project sponsors.
6. It is firmly grounded in research. (Specifically, an extensive original survey: The Strategies for Project Sponsorship Survey and The Standish Group’s CHAOS Manifesto 2012: The Year of the Executive Sponsor)

Reading this book, I had two voices in my head repeatedly proclaiming enthusiastically:
* “Yes! That’s right! I know exactly what they’re saying. I learned that same lesson myself via the School of Hard Knocks on the [XYZ] project a few years ago.”
* “Wow! What a great resource! This is the tool I’ve always needed, but didn’t realize I was missing!”

My recommendation: If you manage projects, get a copy of Strategies for Project Sponsorship for yourself. And then get one for all your project sponsors.

 

More reviews on all Amazon sites and others always welcome – thank you

 

6 Reasons Why the New Book ‘Strategies for Project Sponsorship’ Will Be an Instant PM Classic

March 31, 2013

A Review of ‘Strategies for Project Sponsorship’, by Vicki James, Ron Rosenhead, and Peter Taylor (Management Concepts Press, 2013) by Michael Greer

Strategies for Project Sponsorship’ is a unique blend of practical, step-by-step tools; hard-won wisdom from the PM trenches; and solid, research-based recommendations. As a PM author reading this book, I found myself in awe of how nimbly the authors weaved together seemingly disparate elements: here citing research findings, there providing war stories or case study examples, and finally pivoting to morph these into powerful, ready-to-use tools.

As someone who’s both managed projects and trained project managers for more than three decades, I know this for certain: This book should be in every project manager’s tool kit and in every project sponsor’s briefcase.

Check out Michaels’ six reasons he believes this book will become an instant PM classic Michael Greer

Check out the Book Here