Project Governance Part 2: Project Governance as Leadership

Project Governance Part 2: Project Governance as Leadership

Leadership should be focused on protecting the project against the forces that destroy or lose it

In the case of an 'egg and bacon breakfast' the chicken has contributed, but the pig has been committed. In this context (only) you want your project sponsor to be a 'pig' - i.e. totally committed to your project. If they are only 'interested' or involved because of their position they are unlikely to demonstrate the necessary level of leadership.

The governance team and project sponsor in particular need to demonstrate leadership by championing the project/program across the organization. As one of my old managers used to say, "your area is as important as you make people believe it is".

The same applies to projects. The sponsor needs to make everyone else believe that this is THE most important project in the place (or as near to that belief that is possible).

This requires active consideration and promotion of the project at all times. I am often amazed how many governance team members 'forget' all about their projects once away from the meetings and therefore make decisions that undermine the project in one way or another.

Leadership should also be focused on protecting the project against the forces that destroy or lose it. The governance team is accountable for realizing the value from the project by ensuring as much value as possible is delivered.

This is not a passive role but one that has to ensure the internal, political and other risks are avoided or deflected.

As the governance team runs the business and the project team does not, leadership is also required to 'steer' the project and its outcomes into the business – clearing the paths, removing the obstacles, harnessing the resources as necessary. Another active role.

Leadership is also required to pursue the realisation of the business value, both throughout the project and after until all of the available value has been delivered.

Project governance does not stop when the project stops; it has to continue, often for many months, to ensure the expected value is realized. This takes commitment and leadership.

Without this level of leadership, the importance of your project won't be recognised, you'll be exposed to both external forces and business resistance and the business value will be lost all along the way.

Project governance as leadership is critical to your, the governance team's and the organization's success.

How does your governance process compare? Tell me

Jed Simms is CIO magazine's project management columnist. Simms, founder of projects and benefits delivery research firm Capability Management, is also the developer of specialised project management and project governance Web site

To read Jed Simms’ previous 7-part series on developing a business case click here.

For previous project management articles by Jed Simms visit Project Governance Part 1: Non-understood Project Governance, How Do You Know if Your PMO is Successful, "PMO: What’s In A Name?" and “The Self Evident Truths of Project Management”.

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