The Four Cs of Good Project Management Practice

So many theories on project management, so little time.  How do we distill all of the advice, ideas and principles into an elegant summary?  In the real world, we know that there are no packaged solutions for complex problems.  There are, however, experience-tested frameworks which act as underlying threads to guide good project management practice.  

I have wrestled with the question of outlining good project management practice and have reflected on the established doctrines.    For the past several weeks, as I introduced principles and best practices to my summer project management class at NYU, I began to see how many of these principles have common references and recurring themes.  While there are no magic pills or summary level treatises which capture the full range of project management discourse, there are underlying concepts which clarify project management behavior.  Here are a few powerful common denominators to project success that stand out after the background noise is filtered out:  

1.  Clarity…project managers and project teams that practice clarity are better equipped to succeed.  Promoting a culture of clarity requires active direction and support from top of the organization.  If senior management is not committed, there can be no clarity; the default scenario in that case is ambiguity and chaos. 

2.  Communication…this was, in a way, too easy a common denominator to miss.  Simple, yet very powerful.  Project managers, their stakeholders and their teams must appreciate and embrace the need for proper, timely, concise and relevant communication.

3.  Commitment…One of the key roles of a project manager / leader is securing the commitment of the project team.  The project leader cannot do this until she has demonstrated the same level of commitment that is demanded and required from the project team.  

4.  Credibility…This goes hand-in-hand with trust.  You cannot convey your arguments if you are not credible.  You cannot achieve credibility if your integrity is suspect.  There are no short cuts to credibility.

This is not a comprehensive list and is just a very tiny snapshot from one viewpoint.  I’d like to get other views and thoughts which could expand on this.   Your comments and perspectives are welcome.

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