How to be an Enterprising Project Manager

Imagine what you could accomplish if you never quit and always did all that you could do to get your project done. It requires being enterprising.

What does enterprising mean?

In Unabridged (v 1.1), enterprising is defined as


ready to undertake projects of importance or difficulty, or untried schemes; energetic in carrying out any undertaking: Business is in need of enterprising young people.


characterized by great imagination or initiative: an enterprising foreign policy.

An Ant is a great example of being Enterprising. On a hike once, I observed this massive trail of ants industriously working. As you lay a stick across their trail or put your foot there you quickly observe that they immediately begin to go around over or create a new way to continue their work. You put another obstacle in the way, they quickly adapt again and find a new way. They NEVER give up. They always persist to find a new way and blaze a new trail. As a PM, that is the attitude it takes. Being a quick change artist, being persistent and enterprising will develop and help you deliver successful projects. In considering how you could do better, it requires constructive evaluation, asking sponsors and team to share info with you along the way.

I think it is important to push forward and drive projects as much as possible and requires you doing the best that you can. Being an enterprising project manager, will require dedication, quick to seize opportunities, solve problems and be disciplined. In each project, you have the same amount of time in everyday. So if you are working in your project, even an average 8 hour day you want to make the most of every minute. So how can you do that? Think of people around you, think of people in office, on the news who manage to push forward and succeed despite the most incredible obstacles. Ron Pausch is one of those people I saw in the news, a young child at Shriners recovering horrific burns are a few that come to mind that working hard everyday to make the most of every minute. They are quick to seize opportunities regardless of anything else.

As a PM, the worst message is “no” and it happens all the time. It is the role of asking people on your team, at vendors, other organizations to make things happen and get the work done. It requires developing a plan, revising your plans, following your plan, modifying approach and always being ready to attack problems. Its an attitude of regardless what comes up, having the attitude of “what can I do to make this work”. As the leader, you work to push forward with that clear picture in your head of what success for the project is and taking the steps along the way to stay on track towards that goal.

The difference between success and failure can be very small. Successful PM’s may often work harder but most importantly they are using a variety of tools to work smarter which is more important. One area to evaluate is how you use your time, do you spend time micromanaging or spend time getting the very best resource on your team who is competent to complete work without taking your time. It is important to make use of every hour and really drive the day rather than get pulled to each crisis that others in the team should really be resolving. You need to run your project and you need to run your day. You need to If you can boost effectiveness of time 20% every year, you can double your productivity every few years. Enterprising project managers will drive project activities with clear goals. This can be done by planning the next day at the end of the day, planning week and making minor adjustments as work progresses.

Don’t mistake trivial activity for productivity. You probably know some people who always seem to be busy being busy. To be a successful PM, you need to spend time on the productive activities. Its important to not mistake the junk that is trivial with actions on strategic activities results producing high payoff activities. If you spend time on activities, others can and should be doing its costing you a lot as you are not doing that other activity. Focus on your highest value activities and be relentless at asking “what is the highest and best use of my time?”

Another key is to prioritize and focus relentlessly. Assuming that you have picked your high payoff, high leverage activities you have a clear focus. Staying focused is easier said than done. It takes discipline to stay on track and create boundaries when you need them. This can be as simple as logging off email and scheduling time to more quickly go through at end of day. It could mean not logging on till key deliverables are done in the morning.

Every time we choose to do less than we possibly can and model that within the project team, we limit our possibilities, potential and results for your project. You can alter your project results by doing a little more each day to work smarter. So take the example of the ant and keep your head and find that alternative to deliver your projects!


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