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What Is Real Commitment on a Project?
By Richard Morreale

We all know for projects to be successful the project stakeholders must be really committed to the success of the project. So what is real commitment? Well, it’s difficult to define. I think it is something that you feel before you see it. It’s a buzz that you feel when you have anything to do with the project. The good vibes you feel when you talk to team members about the project or when you walk into the project room. You feel it and then you see it. Have you ever worked on or managed a project with that kind of ‘buzz’. I have and, I tell you it’s a wonderful feeling. Here’s hoping that if you haven’t already you will experience one soon. Because, it’s great. When I audited ‘buzz’ projects there were a number of reasons I found that caused the ‘buzz’.

One reason I found was that it was being run by a people-oriented project manager. He cared about his people and was fair in his dealings with them. He asked questions, listened and valued their input. He understood that he was there as a servant to the team and always looked for ways that he could make their job easier. He was a project manager that understood the hard skills tools, techniques and processes while at the same time practised the soft skills related to his attitude and behaviour. He was a very positive individual and always looked for the best in people and the opportunity in all the challenges the project faced. He was a ‘work hard, play hard’ person who was easy to be around and the people on the project could relate to him. In general, he was an all around good guy who had excellent interpersonal skills.

Other important reasons are covered below.

The project manager fostered a team atmosphere on the project. Those working on the project felt like they were part of a team. The project manager made sure that the project’s common purpose was understood by the whole team. He made sure that the goals and objectives of the project were known and agreed by each team member. Each member of the team knew how he or she fit. Each of the team members understood the roles and responsibilities for themselves and other members of the team. Each understood what they and their team mates were expected to do to deliver success.

Achievement of the team goals and objectives were measured and made visible so that team members knew exactly where the team stood in terms of progress towards achievement. Ground rules as to how the team would work together were established including how any conflicts would be handled. The project manager made sure that achievement was celebrated by the entire team. He made sure that the entire team was recognized as responsible for every success – some members in an active role and some in a supporting role. The project manager ensured that the team operated in a supportive environment. Team members were able to be open and honest without being concerned that they would be punished for their openness and honesty.

The team were well aware of what the goal was – what was supposed to be delivered. There was a Requirements Document in place and under control. They read, understood and agreed the document and the process and procedure for controlling it. They also had a clear idea of the benefits to the business that they were delivering.

The schedule for the project was tight but achievable. This tight schedule caused people on the team to work with a ‘sense of urgency’. I believe that non- challenging schedules cause the team to approach the project in a non-urgent way and, before you know it, things on the project start slipping and eventually the entire project slips.

The team fell important because they were making changes or delivering a new system that was important to the success of the business or was very visible. Because of the way that they were treated they knew that their part, which might be considered a small part in the overall project, was actually required by all of the other parts to successfully deliver the system or changes or whatever was being delivered. For instance, during the Apollo Program one of the astronauts asked a janitor who was sweeping the floor in the Vertical Assembly Building what he was doing. His answer wasn’t sweeping the floor. His answer was helping to put a man on the moon. That’s what I mean about owning the outcome and feeling important.

Want to ensure that you have a committed team? Want to run a project with the ‘Buzz”? Model the things that ‘buzz’ project managers do and then ‘feel the buzz’!

Richard is an extremely experienced Program Manager, Professional Speaker and company executive of Inspiration Systems, Ltd. Richard can: Manage your biggest project, speak at your next meeting or conference, rescue any of your projects that are in trouble, help your project managers be better project managers, help your project managers make their certification work better for them, help your company enhance performance and increase production. He is also the Author of Over 50 Killer Ideas for Delivering Successful Projects. Buy it at or Contact Richard at or 336 499 6677.

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