In The Trenches With Bill Stewart

Project Management – The Oil That Keeps the Corporate Engine Running

In this blog I will be revisiting an article I wrote many years ago.  It is still pertinent today, as there are remain too many leaders that believe (erroneously) that project management is optional and/or can be replaced by a solution based methodology such as Agile or SixSigma.  Project management is the universal leadership discipline that ensures the successful completion of any type of project solution.  It is the leadership discipline that ensures the successful execution of our strategic vision.  Yet, so many are led to believe that the leadership requirements of planning, communication and risk management remain optional…or worse, replaceable.  The following is my original blog:

I had an interesting conversation the other day with a strategic planning professional. He had been listening to my excited description of project management for a few minutes and then countered with the following comment.“There are many cylinders (as in car cylinders) in organizations and project management is just one of them”.  I was taken somewhat aback and perhaps a bit speechless.  I reminded him that strategy is only as good as its execution.

In retrospect a better analogy has come to my mind. Of course corporations are made up of many “cylinders”, or functional organizations.  Marketing, New Product Development, Engineering, Finance, Information Systems, Telecommunications, Research and Engineering, and others.  Each apply different tactics (methodologies) base on the type of solution.   But, just as a gasoline engine car relies on oil to keep the cylinders running, corporations rely on a consistent approach to project leadership activities to prevent the most common causes of project and program failure.  In this example,  project management leadership process is the “oil” that keeps the corporation moving forward toward strategic success.

The analogy of a corporation as an engine made up of “many cylinders that must work together to  achieve strategic success” is accurate.   But, without the application of consistent project leadership discipline across all cylinders, the organization may find themselves broken down on the side of the road while the competition thunders by.


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