Debunking 5 Project Management Myths

31 January 2018
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In every industry, no matter if it’s welding or being the conductor of a symphony orchestra, there are a firm set of rules and guidelines that are to be followed if success is to be achieved. If doesn’t matter if you switch industries, companies, or even professions, these rules will follow you everywhere in some form or fashion. But along with these rules are their spoiled little brother typically known as a “myth.” The project managers profession is no different, they are given a list of rules that they need to follow if they want to manage their efforts, rule that were passed down from others in their profession long ago and taught to them in exams, text books, and lectures about their work. In an attempt to rid the wheat from the chaff, here are ten of the most commonly held project management myths. Recognizing these and working to overcome the challenge of them being commonplace in the industry can insure that projects are planned, executed, and completed based on best practices instead of misconceptions.

1. Every Item is Fixable

Project management professionals are wizards at leading teams in the successful execution of projects, reducing risks, collaborating with stakeholders, resolving conflict and a host of other things — but they are not magicians. Project managers cannot fix everything, especially when problems have gone unaddressed for too long. It is important for project managers, stakeholders and sponsors to recognize and accept when it is time to close off a task or initiative, instead of pouring more resources into trying to fix a lost cause.

2. Projects Finish When Sign Off is Done

By the time stakeholders have accepted deliverables and signed off, project team members may be inclined to consider a project complete. The truth is, without taking the time to review lessons learned (and there will be lessons learned in any project), a project is not truly complete. Team members may be tempted to think of lessons learned as a repetitive exercise and a waste of time — particularly when they just want to get on with the new project — but this portion of the project is critical in helping teams not to repeat mistakes. All team members should be present during this portion of the project to reduced errors and create more value for future stakeholders.

3. The Project Manager is the Most Knowledgable Member

This is a common misconception, sometimes on the part of stakeholders, sponsors, teams, vendors or project managers themselves. A project manager’s role is to facilitate, guide and mentor throughout the lifecycle of a project, and leverage the knowledge of subject matter experts from other areas of the company to help execute a project.

4. Project Managers Can Solve Any Problem

Many project managers excel at conflict resolution, but that doesn’t mean they can resolve every conflict. Project managers often have to approach sponsors to assist in resolving conflicts that involve team members, stakeholders, and/or the project manager herself. In these instances, outside help or mediation will be required. Conflict resolution requires a willingness by all parties to resolve issues, and if all parties are not willing to do so, project managers simply cannot work miracles.

5. All Project Managers Can Manage Any Project

Although a large percentage of project management professionals (PMPs) have the same training and are required to meet the same educational and experience requirements, they are not all the same. No matter how similar two project management professionals may appear on paper, each individual brings different attributes to the table. Their experiences, vision, leadership and collaboration styles, approaches, project or industry exposure, and lessons learned will shape what they offer and how they approach any given project.

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