Project Management Institute

The right state of mind



Teach your team members to do whatever it takes to achieve project success.

Over the course of a project's life cycle, people will make some wrong decisions. They're only human. Depending on the team leader's point of view, those results will be considered “failures” or “opportunities to learn.”

Thomas A. Edison “failed” more than 5,000 times before inventing the incandescent light bulb. He didn't see it that way, however. He viewed it as discovering 5,000 ways not to build an incandescent light bulb.

It takes commitment and persistence to take a project headed for failure and to learn is the foundation for project team development. turn it into a success. You must be willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish your objective. If it takes five steps to reach the goal, you take those five steps—but if it takes 30, you must be persistent. To succeed, you must follow through with relentless determination and action until you achieve the desired result.

Being ready to learn is the foundation for project team development.

Success creates confidence. When people achieve results, they feel better, more powerful and safe. To be a successful project manager, one also must develop an ability to understand the complex variety of project team members and other stakeholders. Being ready to learn is the foundation for project team development.

European project management professionals are more prepared than ever before to advance in their professional development. I believe a new European identity has been developed in the last six years. For example, two years ago, Ian Parkinson, a U.K. project manager, was managing a large international project that involved eight European countries. He always was prepared to listen to his team members who came from different countries. He spent time with all of them, trying to understand the different cultures and environment, and setting up clear expectations. He worked hard with the team to break down the entire project puzzle from the beginning and establish team commitment for small deliverables.

Team members made a lot of mistakes during each project phase. But Mr. Parkinson considered these errors to be findings and shared them periodically with the entire team. They learned. He shaped the way in which his team members approached everyday project problems, what they listened to and ignored, and what conclusions they reached.

When the project ended, I asked Mr. Parkinson what he thought was the reason for the project's success. He answered: “Creating commitment from the very beginning and realizing that every mistake is an opportunity to learn.”

Some years ago I was responsible for implementing a project management office (PMO) at a multinational IT company. The manager didn't believe in project management, so I only had inexperienced junior people on my team. Still, I achieved tangible results within a few months. My mind had transformed this project from a potential failure to a possible success. I spent a lot of time meeting project stakeholders and searching for project allies in my organization. I met with my team members, explaining the purpose and objectives of the PMO and training them in project management basics. I took the time to explain that they all must be accountable for their tasks and activities—and that meant getting team members' commitment.

I believe once you commit yourself to something, you create a mental picture of what it would be like to achieve it. Then, your mind immediately goes to work, attracting events, circumstances and people that will help make your vision a reality.

This is not a quick process, but educating your team about persistence is a must for project success. PM


Alfonso Bucero, PMP, is an independent consultant who manages projects throughout Europe and Asia. He is the author of Project Management—A New Vision and contributor to Creating the Project Office.

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.




Related Content

  • PM Network

    Erasing Boundaries

    By Khelifi, Yasmina As more projects have a global scope and scale, it's increasingly common for project professionals to manage stakeholders around the world, juggling time zones, technologies, languages and other…

  • PM Network

    Guiding Force

    PM Network queries the project management community about building leadership skills and maintaining a responsive team environment.

  • PM Network

    Pushover No More

    By Hurt, Karin Many project managers have allowed their teams to slide—choosing to be liked at the expense of achieving results. Once you've gained a reputation for letting slackers slide, it can be tricky to get…

  • PM Network

    Custom Connections

    By Bishel, Ashley Tight deadlines and new teams. The combination can seem like oil and water to project managers tasked with getting a project started—and swiftly—while trying to seed team cohesion and engagement.…

  • Project Management Journal

    Conflict Management, Team Coordination, and Performance within Multicultural Temporary Projects member content locked

    By Akhavan Tabassi, Amin | Abdullah, Aldrin | Bryde, David The purpose of our study is to enhance the understanding of relationships between conflict management style, team coordination, and performance in multicultural project team contexts. We investigate…