Project Management

A Project Manager's 'Recovery' Program

Project managers lament a fundamental dilemma: a high degree of accountability and a low-level of authority. When things go well, others get most of the credit. But when a project fails, the finger gets pointed … at you. To confront this professional reality, and make the best of it, the author offers his own 12-step recovery program.

Most of us project managers are in “recovery.”[1]  In what other profession would we bombard ourselves regularly with the high rates of our failures; struggle daily to deal with the discipline’s incredible breadth (is there any part of the business we don’t touch?); and regularly accept a high degree of accountability with a correspondingly low level of authority? Yet our numbers are growing steadily; the project management classes fill up easily; and we keep accepting “success-challenged” projects to manage.
Not too long ago, a business owner made a comment to the project manager of a successfully delivered but challenged project. The comment, made with good humor and tongue firmly planted in cheek, was, “I hope the project management office doesn’t think it’s responsible for this project’s success.” While there was humor in it, the harsh reality is what we project managers often face: “all the blame, none of the fame.”
Many …

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"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I... took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."

- Robert Frost