Love, War and Projects

Michelle Stronach has over 20 years of experience in the project management field, with experience creating successful PMOs and implementing project, portfolio management and IT governance frameworks. Michelle truly appreciates the value of feedback and welcomes comments on her articles.

All is fair in love, war and projects. "Projects?" you say? Why not? Projects are similar to love and war in one significant way: they all involve people who are motivated to compete to improve their status. As potential suitors would contend for the affection of a lover, organizational leaders compete for power and resources.

Just as war is vehicle for change, so are projects to an organization. With any change comes the potential to upset the state of affairs--which means an opportunity or threat to the status of stakeholders. The game of politics officially comes into play. The project management challenge is how to engage in healthy and fair play while avoiding disruptive political situations.

The Problem with Politics
What is politics, anyway? By definition, it is the art and science of running government state of affairs. If you think about it, it kind of sounds like the core of project management, doesn’t it? It is up to those in the project leadership roles (we’ll say project managers for the purposes of this article) to ensure the right monitors and controls are in place while running a project, while campaigning for support. The problem comes when people don’t play by the rules and use power in a manipulative way for their own needs. Sideline power plays can create distractions and diversions that can cause delays, increased …

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"If you must play, decide on three things at the start: the rules of the game, the stakes and the quitting time."

- Chinese Proverb