As project management enthusiasts for one reason or another, you are likely well-schooled in the merits of an excellent PLAN. You name it, change management, risk management, communications, etc. there is an important value in leading a team through a detailed and well thought out plan of action. What the formal project management lessons I have been exposed to have failed to include or at least, undervalued, was the importance of that plan being a living document. That is, your plan might not be the right plan!
We have all been a part of a failed plan which couldn’t get out of its own way. Conversely, we have all been a part of a failed project due to a complete lack of a plan. So how does the project manager approach a project with that well thought out plan; and execute it, while leaving that door open for the very realistic possibility that they were wrong? For me, it’s all in the presentation. You need your team to support the plan 100% percent, but not many teams are ready willing and able to draft the plan for you. If it’s their plan, they will support it, but it has to start with you. Presenting that plan as your best IDEA will introduce your plan as merely a draft for their input and will frequently offer the level of involvement that teams desire in order to offer their endorsement.
There is a fine line as a project manager between allowing a team to guide itself (often circling themselves right back to where they came from), and drawing that hard, dictator-esque line in order to reach those unreasonable goals that no team will ever support. Many sources will expand on the need to engender trust from your teams and to earn that trust. For me it starts with admitting that I have merely some really good ideas and rarely, if ever, THE PLAN. If as an individual I purport to remain in search of constant improvement, than as a project manager, I look for that improvement in myself and in my teams to come from my most valuable and frequent contacts. The team itself. Present yourself and the plan confidently, yet always with that opportunity for improvement and you will not only find success, but your plan will be improved without anyone really realizing how it became so successful.
Where has the most unsuspected source of your success in project management come from?