What Makes You Successful?

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at andy.jordan@roffensian.com. Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

What makes you a good project manager? It’s a simple question, but how many of us could really answer it? I’m sure we could all come up with some kind of generic response if we were asked in an interview, but it wouldn’t be particularly satisfactory to us (or the interviewer).

Yet it is a really fundamental question. If we want to develop a successful career in project management, we need to put ourselves into situations where we can succeed—and through that success create opportunities for advancement. If we don’t understand what it is about the way we manage projects that is different from how others do it, then we can’t position ourselves to achieve that success. So that’s what I want to look at in this article, but we need to start with the most fundamental question of all…

What is successful project management?
Before we can measure our success against others and determine the factors that help us, we must first define what successful project management is. It’s not as simple as saying that it’s the delivery of successful projects. We all know of projects that have failed despite amazing efforts from the PM and team, and we also know of projects that have succeeded despite the project manager. We have to go a bit deeper to define project management success. Here’s my somewhat simplified definition, …

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"The higher up you go, the more mistakes you are allowed. Right at the top, if you make enough of them, it's considered to be your style."

- Fred Astaire

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