Dave Cornelius, MBA, PMP, PMI-ACP
Frank “Mr. CAP-M” Reynolds is one of the founders and 2006 Fellow of the Project Management Institute – Orange County Chapter. He is co-author with Diane Altwies of “Achieve CAPM® Exam Success: A Concise Study Guide and Desk Reference” (Based on the PMBOK® Guide – Fourth Edition). It is a remarkable opportunity to spend time with Frank and learn from his many years of project management experience. Frank’s latest work is “Many Streams make a Rivers – An Approach to Career Enrichment”.
You have been involved with the Project Management Institute (PMI) project leadership practices for a while, how would your describe project leadership?
I believe project leadership is fundamentally a facilitative activity. I am most concerned with intact project teams, especially if you look at Agile, that have project teams that have been able to work together inclusive on one activity, should be inclusive of all the various skills necessary to produce the project result. As a result, I think it is important to get those teams involved in the realization of the promised values attending the expenditure of scarce capital. These are the people involved months and years after the project implementation.
If you could select one project leadership characteristics that would be a game changer for a project team, what would that be?
The commitment of project participants and project manager to the development of the deliverables associated with the alleged completion of the project. However, I see the realization of the benefits that come from successful project completion is really critical. A project is NOT done until the benefits are realized. As you and I have discussed, seldom do you see a project manager revisit the true benefits of a project after implementation.
Your focus has been on the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification and training, which is designed for aspiring project managers and the project participants. Can people with the CAPM designation also demonstrate project leadership?
I think there is no question about it, that they not only can but also must demonstrate project leadership. The CAPM is often viewed as a preparation for someone to become a certified project manager, however, there are many people involved with projects that do not have aspirations to be a project manager. They have aspirations to create product, systems, and additional knowledge that are a value to the people with whom they work.
Leadership is not just the guy or gal on the top who has to make it all happen. There are individuals who have project leadership roles that focus on design, test, fabrication, integration and benefit realization. The PMBOK speaks about a project team with members responsible for scope, quality, budget, schedule, resources, and risks.
Do you see a transformation of project leadership into a team-based or groupthink activity versus a responsibility assigned to a single person?
Groupthink is a pejorative that forces people to actually come to a false consensus. The notion should be people working in a collaborative way. There is a joke that some Europeans tell about the United States. They say, “you get people together in Italy and they start fighting over cooking”, “the Brits together and they fight about soccer”, in many cases Americans get together and form committees. The committees are not always functional. So, there is a vital need for the transformation of project leadership into a collaborative activity because there is so much going on with technology, cultures, and projects. People need to work together very carefully and use different types of tools and approaches to be successful.
What advice would you offer to an aspiring or existing project manager about project leadership?
In one way it is Lead, damn it!
My experience with Bell Labs is the project participants often times were they individuals volunteering to lead when the project manager was not around.
I have observed that project managers need to distribute leadership among all project participants especially those who are going to be substantially changed by the realization of the benefits not just at turn over but at the climbing the steep curve to revise, vitalize and provide strong commitment to getting the end benefits of a project well executed. It is bad enough that project managers are unable to describe the performance of the implemented project in meeting the target of the capital investment that demands the continuing emphasis on refining, improving and adapting the business outcome over a period of time. EDI used to appoint two project managers: One project manager to deliver the intended product, system, service or information and another project manager to realize the business objectives of the deliverables.