Beyond the project plan

Here’s an interesting question.  After all, even if you are an expert on the subject of your project and have developed a very good and comprehensive plan, you may still hit bumps.  At some point, you will note that something is missing.  Maybe winning support for your projects is also a key activity that should be in the plan.  So this question comes to your mind as a project manager:

what techniques do you use to get buy-in for your projects?

 The “correct” answer

The correct answer will likely include various tools and techniques known by project managers:

  • The stakeholder register: with stakeholder requirements and expectations
  • The Communication plan: communication methods and schedule to provide information and obtain feedback
  • Meetings: the famous meeting that is everywhere in PMBOK.
  • Brainstorming session: to get all the ideas from everybody
  • Team Building activities: After all, creating a productive team is more than just acquiring team members

All these concepts are useful to know.  They can provide benefits and should be used appropriately.  So yes, they should be included in the project plan.

Yet something will be missing if that’s all that you do for winning support for your project.  It will feel like a good recipe… without the secret ingredient.

 A different view

I would like to propose a different spin than the usual one. Getting the buy-in is neither a technique nor an event, it is more than that.  Yes, knowledge and proper use of these techniques will help.  But it must start somewhere else.  The foundation is something else.

winning support for your project starts with our leadership

winning support starts with you as a leader.  You are not just a project manager.  You must be also a leader, someone that makes others willing to trust and follow them.  Even if you have the perfect plan, why would others follow you?  Why would they support your decisions?  Why would they support your projects?

It seems to me that too often we try to simplify things by making everything a process, a tool, a technique, a plan, a Gantt chart, a report, a standard operating procedures.  Projects are done with people, and that is at the core of the here.  It is people that will give you their support.  You’ll be winning support for your project from people.  As I said in this recent post, people in project management is far more than understanding project human resource management.

Be human

First, you have to be human as a leader.  You can just be a robot applying all the process groups, tools and techniques, and only focus on doing planning, executing, monitoring and reporting activities.  It may be ok to ensure that all tasks are done.  Maybe… or maybe not.  But it won’t make anybody believe in your projects.  You have to be first a human.

Believe in your project

The first person that has to believe in your own project is YOU. You can be an expert, have a great comprehensive plan, and a strong business case.  If as a human you don’t believe and show to others that you believe in your projects, it will be difficult to win support.  With just technical analysis and rationale thinking, you can convince the intellectual mind but that’s it. And that’s not much, actually. So you have to believe in your project.  And show it.  Then you have a much better chance at winning support for your project from others.

A behavious not an event

Finally winning support is not an event. As a leader you must show everybody ALL THE TIMES that you believe in the project and are passionate about making it a success. Too often, managers make these activities an event, meaning that they put it on the calendar, do it, and check it off and then move on.

Too often we forget that we are not robots managing robots. We are humans.

Tell us your thoughts

Please comment below. Some ideas:

  • As a leader, how do you show to others that you support and believe in your project?
  • As a person, what makes you believe in the projects of others

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