Project Management

A Project by Any Other Name

Kathleen Ryan O'Connor

What’s the difference between a “strategic initiative” and a “project”? The question has sparked debate within the project management community. Here, IT strategist Erika Van Noort shares her thoughts on why it matters, and how a change in terms can reframe the mindset of everyone involved, leading to better results.

Could something as simple as changing what you call your next project have a transformative effect on its success? Erika Van Noort believes so.

“If you change your mindset and frame it instead as an initiative, people just feel differently about it,” says Van Noort, director of consulting at Softchoice, where she works with clients on IT strategy. “It feels as though it’s going to be something that is part of their fabric, and part of the fabric of the organization and how things are done as opposed to, ‘This is going to be over.’”

By no means is Van Noort suggesting project managers employ the verbal equivalent of window-dressing and call it a day. It matters — and perhaps more so — that you reframe your mental approach internally as well.

Van Noort says her “eureka moment” came when helping a client whose unified communications rollout had stalled. (Read more about it here.) Together they re-imagined the plan through a more holistic lens — a strong collaboration that …

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"Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent."

- Eleanor Roosevelt