The Face of Leadership

Mark Mullaly is president of Interthink Consulting Incorporated, an organizational development and change firm specializing in the creation of effective organizational project management solutions. Since 1990, it has worked with companies throughout North America to develop, enhance and implement effective project management tools, processes, structures and capabilities. Mark was most recently co-lead investigator of the Value of Project Management research project sponsored by PMI. You can read more of his writing at markmullaly.com.

So. This project management thing. You’ve got your templates, you’ve got your processes, you’ve got your PMP. So it’s all good, right? Well, that depends…

If you’re managing a straightforward, run-of-the-mill, done-it-all-before, do-it-in-your-sleep kind of project, then that might be all you need. But let’s throw a little complexity in there. Perhaps the technology isn’t familiar. Perhaps the team has never worked together before. Perhaps your sponsor is politically shy, and wants to avoid controversy and conflict. Perhaps your organization doesn’t want to adopt the change that your project promises. Perhaps your project is a whole lot like a lot of other projects out there.

The fact is, we don’t often get run-of-the-mill projects. Yes, they exist, but they don’t get assigned to us. We might fantasize that way, but for many of us those projects resemble purgatory more than they offer the promise of paradise. At our core, most of us enjoy challenge and want our work to be engaging and interesting. Sometimes, however, it gets a little more interesting than we anticipated. We start to feel adrift and anxious about how to proceed, because our toolkits don’t provide the answers we so desperately need.

Most processes, guidelines and certifications talk about the mechanics of project management. I…

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