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Topics: Leadership
What types of "difficult project sponsors" have you encountered?
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While project sponsors are supposed to provide critical support having a bad one can wreak havoc on a project. What types of difficult project sponsors have you encountered?
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Dana -

I'd written an article about challenging sponsors back in December 2012. Here are a few of the varieties I've run across:

The Teflon Sponsor – Nothing sticks to them (accountability-wise), and worse, they stick to nothing – decisions, commitments…

The Invisible Sponsor – You saw them when you were first assigned to the project, but subsequently, every time you try to locate them to solicit their assistance, they are nowhere to be found

The Helicopter Sponsor – A close relative of the Invisible Sponsor, they are mostly absent, but will land from time-to-time to spout unwanted and unhelpful wisdom to the project team

The “Big Brother is watching YOU” Sponsor – Instead of running interference for the project team and championing the cause of the project, this sponsor confuses and demoralizes the team by marginalizing the role of the project manager through micro-management

The Machiavellian Sponsor – This type of sponsor appears to be working towards the project and organization’s best interests, but it eventually becomes apparent that they are just working to further their own agenda at the cost of the project team or company

Kiron
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1 reply by Dora Mejia
May 25, 2019 9:49 PM
Dora Mejia
...
Great model to classify the sponsors
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Key is to understand that there are not diffult sponsors or any other type of sponsors. There are people that behave in a way for a reason. Newton´s Laws of Unversal Movement explain why. Our duty is to understand and manage the stakeholders thanks project stakeholder management process defined for the project.
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I agree with Sergio, that our expertise, art, skills and managing style would force to deal and manage any stakeholder that's why we are PM, we are there for managing effectively and efficiently to handle all variation
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Dana, I've encountered miser & stingy sponsor
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Indecisiveness, though to be fair, sometimes due to lack of red tape outside of their control. Nonetheless, impactful on the project.
Network:7092



@Kiron did a great job categorizing "difficult" sponsors, and @Sergio is right on target with the statement that "people behave in a certain way for a -calculated- reason." However, I don’t believe that a PM can always manage effectively and efficiently for all variations. I want this to be true, but the words "effectively" and "efficiently" may be too hard to obtain in some situations.

For instance, @Kiron pointed out the "Machiavellian Sponsor," which I believe is the type of sponsor wherein it would be difficult to characterize an efficient and effective relationship. This type of sponsor (or executive stakeholder) practices what I call "epistemic subterfuge." They will rationally justify passive-aggressive behaviors to covertly achieve a contra goal to the one they are seemingly presenting themselves in "alignment with," and as @Kiron pointed out, they are serving their own agenda at the cost of the project team and company.

Although we can adapt to this extreme type of situation through our own political maneuvering, it would never be fully effective or efficient.
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Had a clueless sponsor who shifted the goal post numerous time and stakeholder who just wont listen. Unfortunately for me, i was parachuted into the project and had to fight my way thru.
Network:863



May 24, 2019 5:53 PM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
...
Dana -

I'd written an article about challenging sponsors back in December 2012. Here are a few of the varieties I've run across:

The Teflon Sponsor – Nothing sticks to them (accountability-wise), and worse, they stick to nothing – decisions, commitments…

The Invisible Sponsor – You saw them when you were first assigned to the project, but subsequently, every time you try to locate them to solicit their assistance, they are nowhere to be found

The Helicopter Sponsor – A close relative of the Invisible Sponsor, they are mostly absent, but will land from time-to-time to spout unwanted and unhelpful wisdom to the project team

The “Big Brother is watching YOU” Sponsor – Instead of running interference for the project team and championing the cause of the project, this sponsor confuses and demoralizes the team by marginalizing the role of the project manager through micro-management

The Machiavellian Sponsor – This type of sponsor appears to be working towards the project and organization’s best interests, but it eventually becomes apparent that they are just working to further their own agenda at the cost of the project team or company

Kiron
Great model to classify the sponsors
Network:863



some other ideas... The invisible sponsor that only appears to ask you the date and never gives you time
The superrich sponsor that appears to tell you "make that happens, money doesn't matter"
The lost sponsor. Doesn't have any aidea about the strategy but want the project to move forward.
The wasting time comittee. Don't take any decision , meet to be informed and claim about the project
Network:863



some other ideas... The invisible sponsor that only appears to ask you the date and never gives you time
The superrich sponsor that appears to tell you "make that happens, money doesn't matter"
The lost sponsor. Doesn't have any aidea about the strategy but want the project to move forward.
The wasting time comittee. Don't take any decision , meet to be informed and claim about the project
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