Is there any major difference between a military leader and a project manager? Ideally both are managing a war in which they have a team who share the same goal and has to win within the constraints. The leader also has to drive the mission and a win or loss is always credited to the leader more than to the team.
And nowadays, the war has to be won before there is a ceasefire from outside third party entities (can be the auditors).
More importantly, military leaders and project managers both need the active support of their teams to be successful. And the support is not just by following the orders but by working with the leader to achieve success in difficult circumstances.
Below are a few important learning that we can follow to get the buy-in from the team and start on the way toward a successful project
The VETO of one objection
This principle says that regardless of the rank of the person giving the command, if you have information that shows the command may be wrong, you are obliged to share that information with the issuer. Once the objection has been properly considered, the objector is expected to comply with the final decision.
Unfortunately, many project team members tend to keep information to themselves rather than risk getting in trouble with authority. This most of the times leads to critical issues and mistakes in project understanding/implementation. More importantly, information withholders become liable to an equal share of the consequences if they have kept quiet.
So rather speak to success than be quite to loss.
Decentralize execution planning to the lowest possible management level. This way, those who must execute the work have the freedom to develop their own plans.
Ofcourse, plans are generally created at the management level but ideally at each level of management, the plan should dictate a subordinate’s actions only to the minimum degree necessary. Rather than dictating a subordinate’s actions, a good project plan should create opportunities for the subordinate to act with initiative.
Planning should be participatory and evolutionary. The main benefit of planning is engaging in the process — the planning matters more than the plan.
We should view any project plan as merely a common starting point from which to adapt as required — and not as a script that must be followed. Plan far enough into the future to maintain the initiative and prepare adequately for upcoming phases, but not so far that plans will have little in common with actual developments.
Let’s start utilizing these principles to make your internal stakeholder management more effective and your projects more successful.