Jekyll & Hyde PM: Managing Project Shifts

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.

All projects are not created equal. We just act like they are. And that is a fundamental challenge to our ability as project managers to be successful. This is not, I would point out, necessarily a challenge to the success of our projects; some of them were doomed before they started. This is an affront to our personal success. If we want to be successful--and we should want to be successful--then we need to accept the truth of this fact.

The issue with projects is similar to what runners face. Some races are sprints, others are marathons and still others have hurdles. A few are insane, mud-strewn, boulder-laden, hilly obstacle courses that only psychopaths and the helplessly naive are drawn to. All are races, but each is different. There are marathon runners. There are sprinters. There are hurdlers. There are psychopaths. Each has their specialty, and they don't mix and match. Know who you are, own your unique skills and abilities, and enter the events that work for you.

This is an important analogy for project managers. There are projects that are functional equivalents of marathons, sprints and hurdles. There are also surprisingly more of the hellacious-obstacle-course variety. Seek those projects that you do well, and you have a good chance of being successful. Take on projects that don't align with your skills, and you are in peril of never crossing…

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Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.

- Will Rogers

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