“Project manager’s need to put their head above the parapet.”

Words uttered by Stuart, an internal consultant for a large company. He wanted me to work with him to promote a stronger project management culture within the business.

After working with him developing their in-house approach to project management, we ran a number of  project management training events. It was during one of these that a couple of people said that they had problems with senior managers. They said that these senior managers were not playing their part in the project management process. I was about to respond and Stuart quickly interjected by saying:

“Well, this is the point where you as the project manager should to put your head above the parapet.”

So, what does raising your head above the parapet mean?


He went on to explain that no matter how difficult the issue is for the project manager there is a need to need to engage with the project owner (sponsor) and others to really sort out the problem. He then asked a number of question of the project management group:

• how can you get formal sign off to what you are going to deliver unless there is some form of discussion and debate?
• how can you agree budgets, timescales and resources without discussion?
• how can you get a project owner to attend a kick off meeting or a sponsor to formally review project progress?

Stuart’s words are strong, very strong and they mean we need to react in a positive way to changes and issue with questions. The answers to these questions will formulate how we deal with whatever it is we face in the project.

Getting your head kicked…

Stuart admitted that one way  or another, project managers will ‘get their head kicked’ and suggested that it would be better to  get it kicked early in the project, when they can influence project success. Towards the end of the project, there may be little opportunity to do this.

So, the key question is simply one of when do you raise the real issues that will make a difference to your projects – whenever you do,your head may well get a lot of attention!

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3 Responses to “Project manager’s need to put their head above the parapet.”

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