There are five things every project needs to succeed, and that everyone in project management should concern themselves with. These remain the same no matter the scale, whether you’re delivering a youth event for 15 people, or the Olympic Games for billions to enjoy.

They also need to be tackled in the same order, no matter the size of the project.

  • Leader: Who is ultimately responsible for making it happen? The leader is the key to the whole thing. They are the one who will have to build the team, the strategy and the culture for the project. If you’re the leader, you may also have been the one to come up with the vision…
  • Vision: If someone else discerned the vision and asked you to lead the project, then you need to work out how you can put your heart into it, so it truly becomes yours as well. Otherwise, you’re just a member of their team who may end up being constantly micro-managed – not ideal for either of you. What is it you actually want to achieve, and why? If you can answer these two questions with absolute clarity, then you’re already halfway there. So much poor project management happens because the end vision is only a fuzzy picture. In as much detail as possible, what is the project trying to achieve?
  • Team: Who do you have already available? Who is willing to give time to this project, or who has already been assigned to it? Your team is the next piece in the jigsaw. And looking at who you have available, and what their different skills are, can tell you whether you need to bring in anyone else to cover any other roles. One of the biggest roles for a leader in project management is to bring the right people onto the team.
  • Strategy: By this I mean what is your plan? What needs to be done? Who on the team will do each part? How will they do it? When will they do it? And where will the money come from? The strategy now becomes the responsibility of the team to create. The leader is responsible for constantly communicating the vision with absolute clarity. The team are together responsible for devising the strategy. So strategy comes after team.
  • Culture: Another word you could use to describe culture is values. How will the team work together, communicate together, make decisions together? What common culture binds the team together, and that will attract other like-minded people to the team, and deter the wrong sort from getting involved? Your culture could include things like dedication to the job, social media, having fun, or always turning up five minutes before the meeting starts. It’s often a question of what culture do you already have, and then as a leader what culture do you want to move the team towards?

If you’re involved in project management, do all you can to grow your skills in the above five areas. Develop as a leader, learn how to effectively communicate vision, become a master of team building and team dynamics, acquire as much knowledge as you can on different strategic planning techniques, and grow in your ability to impose a culture on an organisation. Do these things well, and you’ll be an expert in project management, and an outstanding leader.

Mark Williamson is a founding director of One Rock International. He’s a lay preacher and leader within the Methodist Church, author of a biography on John Wesley, and is currently researching for a biography on William Wilberforce. He enjoys good films, good food, praying for London, and going for long walks with his wife Joanna.

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