ProjectTalks-Chicago: The need for human-centered project management

This morning I attended a first-time in Chicago event put on by ProjectTalks and PMI’s Chicagoland chapter; ProjectTalks-Chicago.  The format was four 20 minute talks. Today’s speakers came from backgrounds in project management, consulting, and change management.  Their topics included consultative servitude, including project team members as stakeholders, change management and project leadership.

What struck me about this morning’s event was the commonality of the messages across these four talks.  All four speakers discussed the human aspects of project management and the need to engage people throughout the project.  This is something that I’ve held as critical for years.  Far too much emphasis in project management is on tools, techniques and templates.  These are all important to achieving project success but placing emphasis there without placing equal, if not more, emphasis on the human aspects of managing projects will ensure failure.

How well do you know your project sponsor and what’s important to him or her?  How well do you understand the end users or customers of the product that your project has set out to create?  How well do you know your project team members and what motivates them? Have you considered the community within which the project and subsequently, the end product, exist?  How about the perspective, in other parts of your organization, that your project is pulling resources from their own?

With all of the effort it takes to define project scope, layout tasks, assign resources, monitor progress and the rest, human aspects may feel like ‘nice to haves’ but treat them as such at your own peril!  Take the time to identify all of your project stakeholders; the sponsors and committees, the team, the customers and end users, the rest of the organization and the community as a whole.  Consider what your project means to them and then develop the proper communications to ensure that they are assets to your project rather than burdens.  You won’t succeed without them.

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