Categories: New book
In this special post, we interview Moira Alexander, PMP, author of a brand-new book. Moira is the founder and president of Lead-Her-Ship Group. She has more than 20 years of experience in business, IT and project management for small to large businesses in the U.S. and Canada. She writes for TechRepublic and CIO Magazine.
I was drawn to the book because of the main theme: the idea of strategic project management - and how important I consider project management the single connection point between organizations' missions, their strategies, right on through to steady-state operation.
So here's are interview with Moira.
Moira, you’ve just written a new book called “Lead or Lag: Linking Strategic Project Management & Thought Leadership”. It makes the connection between short and long-term business strategy with project management thought leadership. What was the trigger for writing a book at this particular intersection?
Throughout my 20+ years of working on projects within small and large organizations I realized some business cultures recognized and embraced the link between business strategy and PM thought leadership while others that hadn’t connected the dots suffered direct or indirect losses, and missed company-wide objectives. It became clear that without strategic goals as the driver, all project, programme and portfolio initiatives simply lost true relevance and project leaders lost their ability to be fully effective. An enormous number of projects are still initiated annually with staggeringly high failure rates. This drives home the need to fortify the strategy and PM thought leadership link, as well as other interrelated factors. While this book covers various topics including strategy, thought leadership, project leadership, HR, methodologies, tools and KPIs, the key overlay throughout is thought leadership and strategy.
You identify long-term strategy in particular. As you know, PMI recently released a Pulse of the Profession report on this topic. So it’s in play at the moment. Yet, many, many project managers I’ve talked with think that benefits realization is actually an example of “role inflation” for project managers, that we should really look at our projects as endeavors with a start and a finish and a budget and scope and schedule, manage the treats to project objectives, and get our work done – and anything beyond that is ‘fluff’. What do you say to them?
The true value of project managers is not in the mechanics of their role, but rather in the high-level knowledge and abilities as strategic thought leaders. Implementing strategic leadership shouldn’t be considered “role inflation”, project leaders are and will continually be tasked with executing projects that offer relevance to future value. Due to increasing pressure on project leaders to show evidence of initiatives on business objectives, EPMOs are being created with a primary goal of aligning project undertakings with company-wide objectives, and as such all activities should ensure project success is not just possible but likely. To do this a PM has to do so much more than “manage”, we need to “lead” in every aspect of the role. Project, portfolio and programme managers should continually work with leadership teams as a partner in success to achieve overall strategic goals and vision. To do anything else means a project leader’s efforts as well as company efforts, resources and opportunities are squandered.
Do you cover any aspects of sustainability, in particular – or it least sustainability-oriented thinking in your book? Does it talk about the elements of the triple bottom line (economic, ecological, and social outcomes)?
In my book I cover future PM trends and the increasing global visibility that’s forging the need for improved transparency, accountability, and social responsibility. The pressure on project professionals to demonstrate how their efforts address these rising concerns will continue to be a significant factor in measuring project, portfolio, and programme success.
That's excellent, Moira, and very insightful. Thanks.
The days of meeting just project specific goals without sufficient regard for economic, ecological or social impact is gone. Much more is at stake than ever before in terms of business, profit and project impact on people and the planet. The bar has been raised on company, executive and project leadership performance, accountability, transparency and social responsibility, with no signs of letting up.
That's very reassuring to hear. Here's a related question:
How do you react to this statement: “Project Managers – by definition – are change agents; therefore they can – and should - be the leader that makes a strong connection between organizational mission, vision, and values to their projects’ objectives” ?
I agree fully with this statement. As mentioned, project manager is a misleading term to some extent as it creates the impression that simply managing project mechanics is all that’s required for success to become inevitable. A PM must be a change agent if they’re to deliver the desired value organizations expect in order to realize full benefits potential. Absent alignment with organizational mission, vision and overall objectives, a project leader simply can’t be agents of change nor effective as project partners.
What other coaching do you have for an audience of project managers who, by virtue of their reading this particular blog, do (at least potentially) believe in a PM taking on a larger, triple-bottom-line focus in leading their projects?
In my book I discuss why many C-Suites may no longer be focusing solely on the bottom-line, and instead choosing to also recognize the intangible and tangible benefits of factoring in the triple-bottom-line in their decisions and actions. I’ve included insights from other experts who say leaders should be open to incorporating other factors into their business practices if they aim to competitive and even possibly viable. The triple-bottom-line is no longer an optional factor; it now has the power to significantly impact the bottom line at some stage in an organization’s growth, whether easily recognizable or not.
At the end of the day the PM profession is here to stay, but each project leader at some point will need to decide if they are willing to elevate their role and responsibilities in this high profile profession and truly “lead” or simply “manage” projects, and by default lag.
Thanks, Moira - excellent points and we heartily recommend your book. Good luck, and thanks again for being on People, Planet, Profits & Projects.
Here's a link to the book - check it out!
Moira Alexander, PMP, I.S.P., ITCP/IP3P