1. Project/Program managers are in the business of promises.
• A common misconception with project managers is that they are responsible for organizing tasks and resources.
• In fact, what project/program managers are really responsible for is making and keeping promises to their customers.
• To keep these promises, they must be able to do the following:
o Be an effective customer for the performance of their team members
o Make clear requests of their team members
o Get promises from their team members
o Assess the trustworthiness of those promises
o Hold their team members accountable to the promises they make
2. Project plans are a tool for trust, not tasks
• A plan that deconstructs tasks is a good start for determining if the project manager knows what it will take to deliver on a promise for a customer
• Without a commitment from the members of the team to deliver on their component promises, the project manager cannot make trustworthy promises
• The task doesn’t make the project, it simply indicates if the project manager understands the pieces
• The thing that makes the project is the commitment of the people working on the tasks to deliver on the promises they are making
3. Have leadership conversations to coordinate action
• The only way to ensure that promises are made and kept is to have a leadership conversation
• Leadership conversations are dialogues that occur between 2 or more people (they can be done remotely via teleconference or video)
• Among other things, leadership conversations
o Generate a shared purpose, mission, and values
o Coordinate action among team members
o Generate commitment
o Understand capacity
o Clarify roles and authority
o Proactively deal with breakdowns
4. You can’t assign a team, it can only be formed by the commitments of the people who comprise it
• A group of people assigned to work together is a “work group.” They may work in proximity of each other, but they do not behave as a team.
• To work as a team, people must commit to a shared purpose, to allocate responsibility and authority, and coordinate action to fulfill a shared promise to satisfy a customer.
• Fractionalized resources often fail. They generally fail because they are working on multiple, simultaneous tasks but not making commitments to satisfy anyone
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