Management/Strategic Project Management term paper 41549

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The goal of Strategic Project Leadership is a new and innovative way to approach the workplace. SPL aims to provide a competitive advantage for businesses in the marketplace. SPL programs today are geared toward educating company executives, project managers, and professional groups about building an effective framework for projects, implementing and executing the ideals of a successful project strategy, and how to give their projects a competitive edge in the industry. The focus of strategic project leadership is not only to earn profits and get the job done, but to ensure a successful business through positive communication in a positive and motivating work environment.

Successful implementation of strategic project leadership is necessary now to execute projects. Don J Wessels iterates in his paper, Managing Programs to Success: Key Program Management Tools (2007):

"Projects are essential to the growth and survival of organizations today. They create value in the form of improved business processes, are indispensable in the development of new products and services and make it easier for companies to respond to changes in the environment, competition and the marketplace. Often changing business needs can be satisfied only through IT solutions, which require projects to implement." (p.1)

Since project development is such a crucial part of a business, it is necessary to use the most productive and prepared leadership structure to ensure a successful project.

The fundamental idea of SPL is the mindset. ( Project managers must become leaders who learn to come to terms with the strategic and business aspects of a particular project. It is imperative to be able to clearly articulate a specific project strategy or goal, which would in turn, motivate their project teams. A successful leader is vital in business competition due to the marketplace's constant technological advances. Businesses monitor this progress and must show great adaptability to the changing environments. Therefore, a successful leader requires insight into a project environment that is open to changes, yet still implements the principles of SPL strategy as well as seeks to consistently be focused on finding a competitive advantage.

SPL's framework is designed on five levels. They are strategy, spirit, organization, processes, and tools. ( Strategy, spirit, and organization are the new ideas implemented into SPL's innovative program, whereas organization, processes and tools are part of a traditional project management system.

Designing a successful project strategy is the first step, and it is integral that all members fully comprehend that strategy. In his paper called Strategic Project Management: from maturity model to star project leadership, Professor Green defines strategy as "the pattern of objectives, purposes, or goals and the major policies and plans for achieving these goals. " (p.3) As an analytical process, strategy helps to define long-term goals, and develops parameters to implement them in a cohesive and functional structure. Strategy also requires measures to combat uncertainty plan for unexpected occurrences or changes in the marketplace and or technology. Good strategic decisions also focuses on the importance of the internal organization and the leadership's vision toward ensuring superior performance, competitive positioning coupled with a definite competitive advantage, and commitment to specific goals. BIA provides a comprehensive list of strategic concerns that project managers should address at the outset of project building to ensure a successful project execution.

First, it is important to fully recognize that project strategy is a key for organizational success. Organization of the people involved with the project is no exception. It is important that all are familiar with the project sponsor as well as senior management, and the overall hierarchy of people working on the project. This infrastructure of people will constantly ensure that the various jobs are being accomplished, as individuals must report to one another regarding their progress. This type of organization deals with recognizing what is needed to sustain competitive advantage in the industry, which has less to do with analytical skills than with good leadership, diplomatic people skills in cultural, political, and professional context, an ability to manage complex problems, and the talent to allocate a group's skills and resources in the most productive and efficient manner. Successful project leaders who maintain those skills must possess "tacit knowledge" because this type of knowledge is "a more powerful source of competitive advantage than is explicit knowledge, which can be written down in manuals and files, or captured in standards, procedures and protocols." (Green, 2005, p. 13)

The strategy should also address how to correctly structure a project, managing that project, and creating a project prioritization process. Additionally, the group must determine what would define the criteria for maximum priority. When the group is aware of what is the most important task at hand, it can be focused on the same objective, achieving the greatest productivity. It is safe to assume that based on the earlier tenets of the strategic planning, group leaders will have ensured that all team members understand and follow the main goals at hand.

Perhaps the most important strategic role is to ensure that both the corporate and department sectors have a shared strategic plan and are supplemental to each other's needs and direction. Therefore, it is imperative that a project manager is an effective leader. Good leaders are able to tactfully deal with all types of individuals in a workforce. Aaron Shenhar, creator of the Strategic Project Leadership system outlines in his paper entitled, Optimizing Project Success by Matching PM Style with Project Tape (2000), four types of project leaders. The "explorer" is a project leader who is very cognizant of the future and current projects are steps toward the bigger picture. Characteristics include being a "strategic thinker, bold and imaginative, comfortable in the lead, and exuding confidence and charisma. " (p.13) The second type of leader is the "coordinator" who is the epitome of facilitation through practicality, comprehensive understanding, and a willingness to be open to compromise and be an excellent problems solver. The coordinator tries very hard to ensure an ideal work environment for all group members. The "driver" is another type of project leader. The driver tends to be very action-oriented, demanding, yet hard working. The driver is extremely focused, yet realistic, and expects the same from his or her team members. The last type of leader is the "administrator". This leader "recognizes the need for some stability, to optimize productivity" ( p.14) and has characteristics ranging from highly organizational and being open to trade-offs and compromise. Real world situations rarely find leaders that encompass all four types of personality, but effective leaders should seek to adapt to the ideal type depending on a given project and the abilities of the project members. Just as some groups prefer more hands on direct guidance (probably the "driver" personality), other groups may respond better to a less direct approach which provides stability (the "administrator"). What Shenhar is saying is that project success truly depends on several different factors, including the leadership style and the resulting environment.

Another component of strategy is for the project leader to figure out if the current office is ideal to conduct project business. If not, then the project leader must find an environment or office that is conducive to the needs and aims of the specific project. Another aspect to consider with environment is that a positive and pleasant environment encourages workers to achieve maximum efficiency and maintain a good outlook. Many companies, like Google, have implemented these tactics in their offices. To nurture creativity and make their employees feel appreciated, the corporation provides free food, swimming pools, and myriad forms of entertainment to ensure that work is not �just work.� Workers may even have a desire to never leave work.

The next step aims to make the project strategy inspiring and motivating. Regardless of leadership type, project managers should be able to create an atmosphere of "excitement and commitment that characterize great projects." ( In order to design a positive environment that supports SPL, leaders should focus on these principles of "building project management into a corporate culture." ( This means creating a successful organizational reporting structure, creating a positive environment that supports the project management goals, addressing the challenges that occur in the environment as well as the outside technological culture. Most importantly, project spirit helps each individual project leader to develop and find his or her own project culture for each varying project.

Ensuring that all project members are aware and understand the common strategy and providing the ideal environment to fulfill the goals makes a huge difference in the implementation of the latter three steps: organization, processing, and tools. These three tools used to be the only aspects of project planning. However, as earlier noted, the importance of defining a set strategy is instrumental to defining the organizational standards for a specific project. For example, the organization depends on the project, project leader, and the group members. A well focused strategy will help the project leader to distribute tasks accordingly depending on the talents and skills of each member. Strategy gives the leader a module to assess the strengths and weaknesses of individual members, and appropriately organize work in the most pragmatic and efficient way. Successful organization relies on good sustained relationships between all members of the group, including a collaboration and support at an executive level.

Processing is the execution of tasks performed by individual members, the project leader, and the project as a whole. It is a group project, and all progress should be monitored accordingly in a group dynamic, to make sure everyone is contributing his or her share of work. Some strategic project leadership focused groups encourage creating a strategic project measurement system which actually monitors individual progress and work. BIA suggests developing project success criteria through weekly and/or monthly status reports. These reports can be color coded as well, so project leaders are able to note an individuals progress. To improve overall project performance, BIA suggests incorporating performance reviews at a team level and completing project audits. This kind of system considerably reduces redundancy and inactivity at an individual level, which means more productivity on a larger scale.

It is important to remember that not all there are various types of projects, which require flexibility in terms of project application. Strategic project leadership takes into account the different types, and shows leaders how to analyze the different project environments, "classify the project type, and select the right approach to the right project." (

Martinelli and Waddell discuss the benefits of specific tools in the strategic project leadership process. One tool they mention is the the program road map which is "an information display that visually shows the time phasing of the programs within the portfolio." (p.1) With a Program Road Map, project managers:

"can gain insight into where and how their program fits within the overall portfolio of programs by referencing an organization�s portfolio map. Senior management decisions concerning the programs (such as resource allocation decisions) will vary depending upon where a program sits within the portfolio in accordance with its projected return versus risk. The portfolio map helps put these decisions in context of the overall business strategy for program managers. Portfolio maps also provide program managers power to influence senior manager�s decision..." (p.2)

This is a crucial tool for management and project workers to understand the group's capabilities, resources, and work output for a given amount of time, since most company heads often have excessive or unrealistic output expectations. The road map appropriately surmises what is "possible and practical over time" (p.2) in a project module. Like the other steps of SPL, the road map must also be open to constant adjustments and updates due to the changing technology and marketplace.

Professor A Jaafari discusses another helpful tool for successful project management in his paper Online Project Diagnostics: A Tool for Management of Project Complexities (2007). He describes the benefits of an online tool called Project Health Check, which provides a "rapid evaluation and feedback on the state of managerial capabilities and actual approaches employed on the subject project." (p. 4) The purpose of this tool is to approach the progress of a project beyond the "typical measures used to estimate project performance range from measuring quantities of work completed versus those planned, time to completion, cost to completion and quality conformance. Depending on when the performance assessment is conducted the results can show deviations from the plan." (p. 2)

The problem with the traditional methods is that managerial efficiency is not taken into account and there is no ruler to measure if the organizational structure is working. Project Health Check judges just that. In addition to quick feedback, the tool also sets managerial performance targets with varying requirements on a case to case basis, summarizes comprehensive managerial state of a given project, and offers guidance to eliminate managerial deficiencies. This tool ensure that output and organization is being properly regulated at all levels of project management to allow for maximum productivity.

Project performance assessment and control is normally conducted monthly; it is supposed to guide project management team to areas of poor performance. But that is seldom the case as the data generated show poor results versus that planned not the underlying causes. No question is raised regarding the adequacy of managerial capabilities and approaches, or whether the plan is still viable.

In strategic project leadership, the process or execution of project goals must be delivered flawlessly. At the core, there needs to be a cooperative competency , which is "project capability that facilitates organizational learning by managing information, relationships, and interdependencies ( Hunt and Stejer, 2007, p. 1).

Furthermore, cooperative competency deals with the crucial skills of communication, cooperation, and building trust. In their paper entitled, Cooperative Competency as an Input Factor for Project Success (2007), Dr. Bob Hunt and Richard Stejer describe communication as "vital for revising project goals and re-establishing task interdependencies" while "coordinating skills involve a specification of project roles with minimal redundancy among resources, and verification that tasks are completed according to project requirements. " (p. 3)

It is only through effective communication that group members, project leader, and corporate executives can fully comprehend the goals and progress of a particular project. Since most organizations have different visions of productivity, it is vital for all involved to see where each other is coming from. Similarly, building trust minimizes uncertainty between the different groups of people and allows for the managerial and worker sides to understand and predict one another's behavior.

These skills should be instilled in all involved to maximize efficiency and contribute to the motivating and positive spirit of a the project environment. It is evident that though the this system has distinct levels with different priorities, all steps must cohesively interact with each other to achieve the highest level of efficiency. Some of the most successful companies such as AT&T, Liz Claiborne, Compaq Computer, and BMG Entertainment employ methods of Strategic Project Leadership in their project development.


1. Green, Sebastian. "Strategic Project Management: From Maturity Model to Star Project Leadership." PM World Today os (2005): 1-18. PM Forum. 21 June 2007.

2. Jaafari, A. "Online Project Diagnostics: a Tool for Management of Project Complexities." PM World Today os 9 (2007): 1-7. PM Forum. 21 June 2007.

3. Martinelli, Russ, and Jim Waddell. "Managing Programs to Success: Key Program Management Tools (Part 6 of a Series)." PM World Today 6th ser. 9 (2007): 1-8. PMForum. 21 June 2007 .

4. Shenhar, Aaron J., Alan C. Maltz, Dov Dvir, Dinesh Verma, and Richard R. Reilly. "Implementation." Strategic Project Leadership. 21 June 2007 .

5. Shenhar, Aaron J., and Max R. Weidman. "Optimizing Project Success by Matching PM Style with Project Type." PM World Today os (2000): 1-15. PM Forum. 21 June 2007.

6. "Strategic Project Leadership." Business Improvement Architects. 2007. 21 June 2007 .

7. Wessels, Don J. "The Strategic Role of Project Management." PM World Today 9 (2007): 1-8. PM Forum. 21 June 2007.


I. Thesis: Strategic Project Leadership helps to achieve efficiency in the workplace, offer an edge in the marketplace, and teaches how to adapt to a changing marketplace

II. Goals of a corporation:

SPL provides information on how to maximize profits while maintaining cooperation and unity in the workplace

III. 5 steps

1. Strategy

1. what are the different aspects of strategy

2. how do they achieve goals

3. examples from reading

2. Motivation

motivation and inspiration encourages everyone to focus on one goal and work toward fulfilling

3. organization, process, tools

1. implementing strategy in an effect way; distributing work based on talent and skill

2. process- how to ensure that all group members are working productively and toward common goal

3. tools- name different tools that are available for SPL: test productivity and efficiency


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