Are you the “CEO” of your project?

February 3, 2010

All too often in our consulting work we come across the “Gantt Chart Nazi” style of project management. You know the type; they spend weeks creating a 500 line masterpiece of a Gantt chart in Microsoft Project and the rest of project making sure no one deviates from their plan. Unfortunately, these practitioners don’t realize how much more successful they could be if they just put down the project plan and managed their project. You aren’t a “Gantt Chart Nazi” are you? Don’t worry if you are, read on to learn how to become the “CEO” of your project instead.

We at The Braintrust Consulting Group focus on training project managers to be the “CEOs” of their projects. What does being the “CEO” of a project mean you ask? First and foremost is a mindset shift, instead of focusing on what needs to be done, focus on why it needs to be done. For example; when was the last time that you were handed a project “down from on-high” and then blindly took it and began to run with it? Next time this happens to you create your own project charter first. Your project charter will serve as the business plan for your project. By having a “business plan” you can easily determine whether or not your project is financially viable, the results might just surprise you. Most importantly being the “CEO” of your project means taking ownership of the project, doing everything that you can to help it succeed, and taking it personally when things go wrong. Let’s investigate some additional key aspects of leading like a “CEO”.

Key aspects of leading like a “CEO”

  • Dollars and sense thinking – Weigh each decision you make based on what monetary value the expected outcome will bring
  • Focus on the bottom line – When you pretend that the project budget is your own money you take every cost overrun personally
  • Make decisions on what to do based on ROI calculations – Should you even pursue this project to begin with?
  • Visionary – Paint a picture of your projects outcome that all can see and then lead to the vision
  • Lead and don’t manage – People readily follow a leader, but are often dragged kicking and screaming by a manager
  • Empower your team – Let the members of your team do their job, as “CEO” you know you can’t run the company by yourself
  • Manage by walking around – Leave the walls of you cube or office and talk with the project team in their environment, you’ll be amazed at what you learn

How impressed would your manager be if the next project that you run you are able to show a return on investment? What about if during your next project your team actually takes the initiative, completing tasks without having to be told? Or what if instead of spending all your day in front of a computer screen, updating Microsoft Project, you were able to get out of your office and actually manage your project? All of these benefits and more are at your fingertips when you learn to manage your project like a “CEO”.

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