Project Management

Beware of Managing a Personal Project for Family & Friends

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 [email protected] Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

While there may be exceptions for things like building a house or planning a wedding with hundreds of guests, most personal projects tend to be relatively small. That means smaller teams—and it also leads to the temptation (perhaps even the need) for the project manager to take on some of the work of the project, as well as to coordinate everyone else’s efforts.

In a work environment, I would always caution a project manager against rolling up their sleeves and getting on with some of the tasks in the plan. But with personal initiatives, the rules have to be slightly different.

Those projects aren’t about the purity of project management, they’re about collaborating to get things done among family and friends. It’s likely not going to go down well if you assume the role of project manager but then refuse to help out with some of the work on the basis that it isn’t the PM’s job to get involved with the tasks on the project. And realistically, the risks of the project manager helping out—especially on small projects to organize events, trips or similar—are pretty small.

But those risks still exist, and project managers have to recognize that. Even though helping with the work might be the right thing to do, the potential downside of that engagement has to be assessed and managed. Let’s put things in perspective:…

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Conformity's an obsession with me.

- George Costanza