Quick Tip: Explaining the value of Project Management to “non-believers”

From the I wish I had me when I was you... Blog
"I wish I had me when I was you..." That expresses precisely how I feel each time a project manager or PMO leader tells me a story about their frustrations encountered while trying to create effective and sustainable change, build (or fix) a PMO, or deliver projects successfully. I always think to myself…I wish I knew then what I know now. I’ve made it my mission to share with you everything that I have learned while creating change and building PMOs in both large and small organizations for the last 24 years, many of those years as an employee in the "hot seat" responsible for building internal capability. I’m hoping these articles help you along your journey as you continue to evolve and develop skills and techniques to be the high-IMPACT leader you are meant to be. Learn more at ImpactbyLaura.com

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How do you convince someone that Project Management is the medicine they need to take? You don’t.

Our “go to” move when we want to bring someone over to our way of thinking is to talk and talk about the benefits because surely, they will “get it” if we just explain it right…right?

Well, you may want to consider starting with a few other things first, then they might actually listen to what you have to say…

  • Start by listening. Why are they unimpressed with Project Management? Maybe they have seen it fail before or “got burned.” Maybe they just haven’t been exposed to it. You won’t know unless you ask and asking allows you to figure out how to best approach engaging them on the topic.
  • Make sure that you are not over-complicating the project management process in the first place. There's a difference between project management and PROJECT MANAGEMENT. It might be that the process is getting in the way of productivity and that could contribute to their concern. Focus on what minimal best practices you can put in place in order to create value without making project management “the work” for them.
  • Think simple and small. If what you have been presenting to them is overwhelming, they won’t buy into it. You don't want to overwhelm people with charts and tools and templates they have to fill out if you want them to believe in the value project management. Always keep your discussion of the topic and what you introduce to them very minimal.

Then, you can start talking in a way that speaks to their perspective…


  • Provide examples of what other industry leaders are doing. In every industry, you can find people that are exhibiting good project management discipline and it shows in the outcomes that the organizations able to create. Take the opportunity to research other companies that do similar work and showcase how they have implemented project management discipline and are seeing stellar results.
  • Focus on the pain you can fix. Give them examples of what’s not working right now. The reason you want to add PM process is probably because something isn’t working as well as they could or something is just broken.
  • Make it real for them. When I do my project management training courses, I often walk people through very simple examples of applying project management techniques to day-to-day life. For example, when you are planning a trip, you apply a lot of the best practices of project management to plan the trip effectively. Just getting from point A to point B, you plan your route, plan for issues that can come up along the way, develop a timeline, plan for stops along the way, etc. Many times, applying project management to the “real world” makes it easier to see the value.
  • And the most important way to make a non-believer a believer is to get something done. Perform. Perform relentlessly and then explain to them that project management techniques are what got you there and got the outstanding results.

There is no greater way to transform a non-believer into a believer than to get something done for them that has extremely high value and creates a big impact.

Thanks for taking the time to read this article.

I welcome your feedback and insights. Please leave a comment below.

See you online!


Posted on: December 18, 2017 07:59 AM | Permalink

Comments (14)

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There are countless benefits of project management, to name a few -Improved process efficiency, On time delivery, Visibility, Customer satisfaction, Improved team performance and so on but you are right we should start simple and small with facts to make someone understand.
Thanks Laura for an interesting article.

I'd rather have them come up with examples of what doesn't work. They are a lot more invested in their pain points, than in yours.

Interesting, Laura. I tend to agree with Stephane's statement too .

How Truly said. Thanks!

Always on point as usual. Thanks Laura.

Good tips.

Thanks, Laura! Good Article.

Thank you for sharing. You are listing tips but let me say that when you will try to demostrate value about something you have to take into account something that is critical: value is a subjective matter. So, the list of tips could help but you will not convince to somebody is she/he does not perceive value. In my case, as a tool, I use SPIN Selling or Solution Selling to be prepare for that.

Good article, Laura. Thanks for sharing.

"Start by listening"
"Think simple"

Thanks for the reminders!

Excellent points, thank you. The listening first should get you an insight to the areas that project management could help an organisation.

showing by example, real life example is the best

This is a good one!

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