Project Practitioners > The "Secret" Code: a Toolkit of Skills

The "Secret" Code: a Toolkit of Skills

By Randy Englund

Proman was at a crossroads. The large program had just concluded. What was next? He noticed how engaged he’d felt during the process. Each day he threw himself into the proceedings with renewed vigor. He seemed to know instinctively what to do. People looked to him for direction, even people smarter than he was and higher up in the organization. Sure, there were many moments when he felt like he wanted to strangle someone who would not cooperate. But even these moments challenged him to reach inside himself for an appropriate response that would elicit a positive reaction. He had to manage change, negotiate, and sell.

A number of previous assignments Proman had worked on had a similar pattern. These assignments were important and urgent for the organization. Each was unique and needed someone to take charge of working with others to deliver results. Unlike many engineering assignments that required deep analysis in a specific area, the assignments Proman gravitated toward were broad, people- and process-related, and complex. There were no obvious answers or one correct way to do them. They were opportunities to invent new practices, or borrow and modify existing ones, to achieve results. The people dynamics were fascinating, although often frustrating. Success seemed to come when technical and behavioral aspects, intellect and emotion, and head and heart were integrated.

                As Proman was a continual learner, he learned that there was a name for people like him and what they were doing. In fact, this approach to project work had evolved into a discipline, profession, and body of knowledge.

He was a project manager, practicing project management, leading a program, and functioning as a project office of one (POO). Nobody had asked him to start a project office; the situation just required someone to act in that capacity.

                A project office of one is possible in an organizational culture that supports the essence of a project office but not its structure. Project offices of one are change agents—individuals learning to unfreeze, change, and refreeze the people around them, offering tremendous value. The steps along a path from chaos to nirvana can be taken by individual project managers–or others who are doing projects or leading a change effort and just happen to have the aptitude. People who function as project offices of one want the outputs they create, through a set of activities, to be great instead of average, and the outcomes to contribute to and fit with organizational goals instead of going on the shelf. POOs make this happen through their knowledge of leading practices, development of “soft” people skills, and their experiences with project management processes.

                There is no greater reward for a true project manager than to take on a larger project, such as enterprise project management. The possibilities for guiding the organization to higher levels of maturity and achieving optimized results are endless.

                The “secret” code to success and advancement in any organization is to make yourself more valuable, align with organizational goals, attract like-minded individuals who want to make a difference, integrate key skills from a variety of disciplines, and take the initiative. People who do these things may be able to function as a project office of one. Their actions are effective because they form a clear vision, establish a set of priorities, and set processes in place to implement those priorities. They become vested in and are held accountable for delivering desired outcomes, not just for practicing their functional skills. These people have become complete project managers.

Today is a good day to be a POO.  Are you ready?  So asks PMI President and CEO Mark Langley, “Do you have the skills your organization’s executive are looking for?  Do you know what those skills are?”

Join me in Sunnyvale, CA on Saturday, June 8, 2013 for a full day workshop to fill up your toolkit and become a complete project manager!

Randy Englund, Englund Project Management Consultancy

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