PM Articles > Carl Pritchard > … and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

… and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

by Carl Pritchard, PMP, EVP

To: Santa Claus
From: Senior Elf project manager
Subject: Holiday Wish List

Dear Santa,

I have been a very good project manager this year, so I'd like to ask for the following in the year ahead:

  1. Priorities. I've tried very hard to figure out which toy projects are more important than other toy projects and which come first. Unfortunately, I keep picking the wrong ones, or the ones I pick get superseded by others. Just let me know which one is most important to our success, and I'm on it.
  2. Einstein. (Or the Cabbage Patch Kid, for that matter). I really don't care who I get, as long as I get who I planned for in the first place. I seem to plan for Einstein and get Beavis a lot, and it would be awfully nice to be able to plan to the right resource.
  3. Contingency. I have to admit that I have not been a good project manager on this one. I did tell a lie. I call it "padding." I've been padding only because I don't have a sense that the money or schedule will be there if something goes wrong, and something always seems to go wrong. Even if it's small, I'd love some contingency this year. I promise I'll tell you how I use it.
  4. Transparency. I'd like to be able to see what the contracts elves and the accountants are doing. The more I understand what constitutes "success" in their eyes, the more I'll be able to give of the gifts I'm given!
  5. A Shield for Planning Time. I know asking you to run defense for me is asking a lot. But if you can tell others that "Forget-the-requirements-and-start-working" is not a success strategy, it would help a lot. If you give me more planning time up front, I promise I'll give you the gift of more on-time, on-budget deliveries. It's a fair swap.
  6. A Shiny Red Wagon. Or an Amex Gift Check. Or a box of chocolates. Or a letter of recognition. This one's not for me, it's for my elves. I'd like to be able to give back (in your name) for all they've given through the year.
  7. Some new toys! Microsoft Project is actually in its 2007 edition. Not that I don't like Project98, mind you. Or one of the fancy risk tools like Risk+ or PertMaster. I know they're expensive, but you can hang the neat charts I make on the office refrigerator. Or, I can just use them in my client presentations.
  8. Knowledge. This has always been one of the nicest presents I get from you (even though it always feels like I'm getting underwear or SOX). I just want you to know that training and learning new stuff is still on my wish list, even though it seems like I already must know everything.
  9. Affirmation. Ongoing support is important. Do you remember the time you came into the workshop and told everyone I was on the right track? I milked that for six solid months. A little public affirmation goes a long way.
  10. Honesty. This is what I'm getting you for Christmas, sir. I plan to tell you when projects go awry and when they're on target. You've always been the expert on that "naughty or nice" stuff, so this comes naturally to you. But if you can tolerate a little more news—good or bad—I think it works in everyone's favor.

That's it for this year, Santa. It's all any project manager could want. Unless you want to throw in a GPS like the one you got for the sleigh.

All the best,

Elf Ryschus, EMP (Elf Management Professional)
Senior Elf PM
North Pole Division

Carl Pritchard is the senior elf at Pritchard Management Associates. He is compiling a collection of his ProjectConnections columns to be released next year. He welcomes your holiday well-wishes at

PMI® and PMP® are all registered trademarks of the Project Management Institute of Newtown Square, Pennsylvania.

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