What can go wrong

Mentoring Project Managers of varying experience has shown me certain traits from highly successful ones. Project Managers are powerful agents of change. Leaders understand that success in transforming organizations is directly related to their ability to execute change programs. The rest of us call these ‘Projects’.

Projects have been given a bad rap through the years with all the failed projects that populate a company. If we look at a few successful transformation projects, we will notice a certain trend.

Great agents of change (or Project Managers) have the following competencies going for them:
1. Clear and concise communicators
2. Well organized
3. Makes sure that tasks have single accountabilities and specific deadlines
4. Great motivators
5. Holds others accountable to their deliverables
6. Focused at making timelines work
7. Holds a clear vision of the end game

On a side note, these are the same competencies we find in successful leaders. At the end of the day great project managers are great leaders. Imagine having a group of people, who do not work for you, work together and deliver a common goal.

Stepping back, most projects fail or gets delayed because Project Managers do not bother to think about what can go wrong with their project and prevent/mitigate them. Mediocre project managers, like mediocre leaders, simply react to events. They allow risks (problems that have not happened yet) to transition into issues (problems that have materialized).

With all the moving parts of a project, managing risks is probably one of the most important activity of a change agent. Regular assessment of what can go wrong and managing it before it materializes, is the mark of a truly great project manager.

It is not rocket science. It is simply listing down what can go wrong, how to prevent/mitigate it, assign a person accountable for the prevention/mitigation. If a project is important enough, a weekly assessment of project risk instantly gives the project a better chance at succeeding.

When a risk materializes into an issue, it creates a speed bump or even a road block to the project.

How about you? Do you manage the risks of projects or initiatives you own?