Three Fundamentals of Project-Based Work

By Ty Kiisel

During the first 85 years of the Tour de France, no American had ever won.

In 1986, Greg LeMond was the first American cyclist to win the Tour de France. He won again in 1989, and again in 1990. This makes LeMond one of only nine cyclists to have won the Tour three or more times. A powerful competitor and fantastic racer, LeMond has said, “Perhaps the single most important element in mastering the techniques and tactics of racing is experience. But once you have the fundamentals, acquiring the experience is a matter of time.”

I think the same can be said of successful work management. Experience comes after fundamentals. Let me suggest a few of the fundamentals I think apply to successfully managing projects and project teams:

  1. Make sure the project has a clearly defined business objective — and that everyone involved in the project understands what it is: It’s important for stakeholders and project teams to understand the business value of what they’re doing. Keeping the project vision visible and accessible enables everyone involved in the project to stay focused on what’s important.
  2. Make sure the project has executive commitment to see it through: One of the quickest ways to kill a project is to pull the funding out from under it. A committed executive can also help promote the merits of the project to others within the organization to build a broader base of stakeholder support.
  3. Make sure there is a shared sense of determination to finish the project: If the only member of the team committed to finish is the project manager, it’s not likely the project will ever be completed. Individual team members and executive stakeholders need to have the same determination. Without a shared sense of determination to finish, projects languish and eventually fail.

Mastering (and practicing) the fundamentals isn’t very exciting, but it’s often the difference between someone who is successful and someone who isn’t.

Project and portfolio management software, along with other project management tools, offer both experienced and new project leaders a number of valuable tools to help them establish work management best practices and methodologies. That being said, nothing can substitute for establishing a good work management foundation.

Do you have any fundamental skills you would add to the list?

About Ty Kiisel

Writing about project management for @task gives Ty the opportunity to share his personal experiences as an “accidental” project manager along with the lessons learned from conversations with customers, hopefully demonstrating that it really doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, the rewards of successfully executing project-based work are universal.

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