Tactics for a PM's Consultative Approach
It is smart to use a consultative approach, especially when you are a new project manager to a group. In fact, the ability to use this approach is a hallmark of more advanced project managers. But what does it mean exactly to “use a consultative approach”? The phrase could mean any number of things, so it is best to look at some specific tactics.
Tactic 1: Look critically at the charter and/or any initial high-level scoping information. A consultative approach always includes a clear understanding of the basic rationale and business desires driving the project. This goes hand-in-hand with a questioning—but constructive—mindset.
- Check whether the solution appropriately solves for the problem stated. If not, then determine what exactly you expect but are not seeing. For example, the problem statement may be too broad for the system upgrade defined in the project. This will cause conflict in scoping and requirements.
- Follow up with the sponsor for clarification. You may agree with the clarification and then revise the charter language, improving future success. If you have indeed spotted a problem, then you can achieve a consultative value-add by resolving the issue by modifying the charter. You will then help the sponsor avoid a significant foundational risk. That’s constructive.
- Understand that a project can be started by a powerful
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