Results Without Authority
Controlling a Project When the Team Doesn't Report to You
Author: Tom Kendrick, PMP
Pub Date: January 2012
Print Edition: $19.95
Print ISBN: 9780814417812
Page Count: 288
Format: Paper or Softback
Edition: Second Edition
e-Book ISBN: 9780814417829
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Control of Projects
P R O J E C T S AR E E V E R Y W H E R E. Some of these projects succeed; others do
not. Many projects fail because the project leader lacks sufficient control to
keep things moving toward a successful conclusion. Insufficient project control
is a result of many factors: lack of authority, geographically distributed teams,
excessive project change, competing priorities, and inadequate planning—just
to name a few.
Increasingly today, projects are undertaken in environments where the
project leader has little formal authority. Even for project managers with formal
authority, significant portions of project work are done by contributors who
work for other managers, often for a different company. Projects where no one
is in charge are almost certain to fail. As the leader of your project, you must
assume control, whether or not you possess organizational authority. As unlikely
as it may sometimes seem, any project leader can do much to establish
and maintain project control. This book has many ideas for achieving project
success using techniques that don’t depend on organizational position or on
Who’s in Charge?
In classes, workshops, and informal discussions of project management that
I’ve been a part of, one of the most common questions is, ‘‘How can I manage
my project if I have no power or authority?’’ This issue comes up so often that
I developed a list of things that project leaders can (and should) take control
of, regardless of their position or power in an organization. None of these
things requires any authority beyond what is implicit when you are delegated
responsibility for a project, and some don’t even rely on that.
Factors That Any Project Leader Can Control
• Reporting cycles
• Project reviews
• Change management
• Rewards and recognition
• Constructive criticism
• Reciprocity and exchange
• Risk monitoring
Project leaders can use these means, along with many others in this book,
to enhance their control in any project environment. Because the techniques
outlined in the next several chapters don’t rely on the command-and-control
authority of the project leader, they are effective in cross-functional, agile, matrix,
heavily outsourced, virtual, volunteer, and other challenging environments.
In fact, even project managers with substantial authority will benefit from the
practices described in this book because they avoid the potential resentment
and demotivation that can result from pulling rank.
Structure of This Book
The first half of this book explores three elements of project control: process,
influence, and measurement. This introductory chapter introduces these elements,
and Chapters 2–4 dig into the details and show how to apply them in
your project environment.
The second half of the book examines when to use these three elements
for control throughout the life of a typical project. The Guide to the Project
Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide), from the Project Management
Institute, identifies five process groups: initiating, planning, executing,
monitoring and controlling, and closing. Chapters 5–9 map these topics, describing
how to better control your project from its beginning to its end. Where
the PMBOK Guide tends to assume that a project manager has formal power,
the discussion throughout this book focuses on controlling project work even
when you do not have such direct authority.
Each chapter begins by outlining the principal concepts for that chapter,
then explores each idea in detail using examples. Each of Chapters 2–9 concludes
with a summary of key ideas, and Chapter 10 summarizes the fundamental
ideas of the book and offers some final thoughts on applying them to your
This book contains many ideas—far more than any single project would
ever need. The advice ranges from tips useful on small projects to ideas for
dealing with the complexity of large, multiteam programs. Read through the
book using your own judgment to determine which ideas are the most effective
and helpful for your specific situation. To get started, pick an idea or two from
each section that you think will help you with your project. When you encounter
a problem, use the table of contents to locate pointers to deal with it, and
adapt the practices outlined there to move things back under control. Don’t
overcomplicate your project with processes that aren’t needed; if two approaches
to a project issue are equally effective, always choose the simpler one.
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