Project Management

The New Project Management Triangle: Part 2 - Business Acumen

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Acumen (noun) / the ability to make good judgments and quick decisions, typically in a particular domain.
The New Project Management Triangle: Part 2 - Business Acumen

Most project management professionals are familiar with the term, the project management triangle. In the traditional project management triangle, the three points of the triangle (scope, time, and cost) refer to the triple constraints. Originally, it was intended to help with intentionally choosing project biases and analyzing the goals of a project. It is often used, and many would suggest misused, to depict project management success as measured by the project team's ability to manage the project, so that the expected results are produced while managing time and cost. Speaking at the Gartner Group PPM and IT Governance Summit, Mark Langley, the President and CEO of the Project Management Institute, offered the following pearls of wisdom, "If we continue to speak of project management only in terms of scope, time, and cost, then project management as we know it will fail us. We need to speak of project management in a new language, the language of business, with the project management triangle having at its three points (1) technical project management in terms of what we know of per our certifications, (2) business acumen, and (3) leadership." With this comment and perspective, Mr. Langley was given a loud and lasting applause by an audience of several hundred CIOs of today's leading companies, an audience not easily pleased nor impressed.

Addressing one of those new points of the project management triangle, today we have ten tips for PMO manager and project manager business acumen. These tips come to us from Barrett Brooks, who is currently writing a book on this all too important subject.

  1. Ask questions. The absolute dumbest thing we can do when entering the workplace is not ask questions. Yes, we might sound stupid for five second. But if the 'stupid' question prevents embarrassment for the entire team or organization later, was it really that stupid?
  2. Learn. Our ability to learn is our greatest asset. Seek to good in many skill sets and an expert in at least one.
  3. Industry knowledge. Be informed about your industry and your business environment. Without industry knowledge, your ability to add value to your organization will be limited.
  4. Business skills. Even if your present job does not require them, develop business skills. Learn how to read your company's annual report, the operating statements, and most importantly the business strategy.
  5. Add value. Seek to add value in any way possible. If you don't have the opportunity to add value then it might be time to find a place or role new where we can. Within three months of starting a new job, we have enough experience and we should have learned enough to be a valuable resource to someone in the organization.
  6. Communicate. Become a conversationalist. All workers need to talk. No matter what the role, the ability to create conversation will immensely increase our chances for success in our job, projects, and tasks.
  7. Write. Even though your business school might not have taught it, writing matters. Haphazard email is rampant in the work place and writing is becoming a lost skill. Those who do it well stand out. Consider it an investment – learn to write clearly, concisely, and with impact.
  8. Network. Seek to continually build meaningful relationships. When done right, networking is good. Spend time with colleagues. Work an extra hour to have an extra lunch with a colleague. Quality time with colleagues will help you develop new perspectives and skills.
  9. Welcome exceptions. There are exceptions to most rules. Exceptions represent business judgment. Rather than mandating rigid processes and policies, welcome exceptions to the rules.
  10. Goals. Set stretch goals, not 'good enough' goals. Setting mediocre goals that get accomplished is not nearly as impressive as setting stretch goals, some of which might not get met. The point of stretch goals is to inspire personal and professional growth. If we are punished for pushing for growth and coming up short, we need to find a new workplace.

It takes time to develop good business acumen. There is no class and absolutely no certification for business acumen. Anyone, in any job or position, can develop and cultivate business acumen skills. You don't have to be a C-Level executive to develop and exhibit good business acumen.

Posted on: April 13, 2012 01:16 PM | Permalink

Comments (2)

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Mark, I applaud your entry on business acumen because I don't believe enough people concentrate on keeping up with the changes in their basic, chosen field until they realize that new technology, new markets, new people, new innovations have opened up new businenss opportunities that they don't see. So everyone really needs to become a "lifelong learner" about their own chosen field of discipline. A key part of this is getting different "perspectives" from different people on what one is doiing at any given time. That means being open to feedback and improvement ideas from any source.

Part 1/2 - EXCELLENT!!

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