Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar icon
Adobe PDF icon

Six Clichés That Make You a Better Project Manager

~ By Duncan Haughey

Coloured letters spelling out: Never Assume Anything

Clichés are funny. We don't like to hear them, but we often use them in everyday conversation. Clichés are a useful way to make a point because the meaning of them is understood universally, even if they are not always entirely accurate.

Just because something is a cliché doesn't mean it can, or should be, ignored. Here are six clichés we can use to help us become better project managers.

1. Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

We've all heard this expression. The lesson behind this cliché is that patience is a virtue at the start of your project. Don't rush straight into solution design and build before you've done the groundwork. Make sure you take the time to create a good plan, gather customer requirements, and create solid functional and technical specifications. Remember, it is plan and execute - not - execute, stop, plan and execute again.

2. It's Not Rocket Science

This modern cliché is one that I used as the title of an article about the common pitfalls of IT project management. The lesson is that project management really isn't rocket science. Projects are delivered using a clearly defined framework. The phases of a project are well documented, and once understood; provide a recognised route to project success. Take one of the many public training courses to find out how to deliver your projects successfully.

3. Manage Expectations

This favourite business cliché is trotted out countless times a day in offices throughout the land; however, it is the number one activity of a project manager. The lesson behind this cliché is that failing to manage expectations can lead to wrong assumptions and false hope. Having a good grasp of customer needs will help ensure you are working to keep your project on track, and not chasing pots of gold at the end of a rainbow. Have you managed your customers' expectations, or are they running wild?

4. Too Many Chiefs and Not Enough Indians

Although not heard much these days, this cliché was a firm favourite of my boss as a young trainee operations manager. It means there are too many managers and not enough people to do the work. You need to ask whether you have enough individuals with the appropriate skills to deliver your project successfully. Not having the right number of people, or indeed having the right number with the wrong skill mix can be a cause of project failure.

5. Keep Me in the Loop

I find that I'm in the loop for far too many things these days, many that don't concern me. However, the lesson to learn from this cliché is that stakeholder communication contributes significantly to project success. Keeping everyone well-informed (in the loop) ensures there are no nasty surprises at the end of your project. Communication problems are the hardest to resolve, as you often only see the problem when looking back. Regular communication and working closely with your stakeholders will help.

6. If You Can't Measure It, You Can't Control It

Although this cliché gets touted like a mantra in some organisations, it's true when it comes to project management. Agree on the key performance indicators and success criteria for your project up front, and check them as your project progresses. Take action early if you are failing to achieve any of your goals or performance targets. When setting your measures, remember the concept expressed by Albert Einstein, Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.

Keeping these tips in mind as you manage your project will help you keep expectations in line, your project running smoothly, and move you closer to getting the result you want.

…and if your project fails? You'll probably get to - 'spend more time with your family'.

What are your favourite clichés?


Based on an original idea by Stoney deGeyter.


Comments (3)

Topic: Six Clichés That Make You a Better Project Manager
5/5 (3)
Gravatar
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarEmpty Star
13th August 2014 8:17am
Raj (India) says...
What do you mean by Indians?
Gravatar
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
14th August 2014 9:02am
Duncan Haughey (London) says...
Cliché number 4 is about Native American Indians. The Indians live in tribes and have one Chief (or leader), and the rest are normal people. The people carry out the work as directed by the Chief. So, when everyone is directing, and nobody is doing any work, it is said there are, "Too Many Chiefs and Not Enough Indians." It has nothing to do with India or the people living there.
Gravatar
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
12th August 2014 4:05pm
Laura Gideon (Greater Atlanta) says...
Too many chiefs and not enough Indians - I haven't seen this happen often, but when it does it is a major problem. Good post. Thanks!

Add a comment



(never displayed)



 
2000
What is the sum of 1 + 3 + 3?
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

10 Golden Rules of Project Risk Management

Three red dice reading: Manage your risk

The benefits of risk management in projects are huge. You can gain a lot of money if you deal with uncertain project events in a proactive manner.

The Art of Project Scheduling

Project plan and schedule

The art of project scheduling is based on experience and the more experience you have, the more accurate your schedule will be.

Belbin and Successful Project Teams

Business team brainstorming using coloured labels on an office table

Creating successful project teams is a daunting task for project leaders. A good method for matching people to roles is the Belbin Team Inventory Method (BTIM).

How Agile Practices Reduce Requirements Risks

Road warning sign - Risks Ahead

Every software project carries some risk, but many of these risks can be mitigated. That's true of problems related to product requirements.

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what's happening in the world of project management.


Latest Comments

Joseph Marandus commented on…
How to Apply PRINCE2: Engaging Senior Management in Your Projects
- Tue 21 March 1:59pm

Janine Greene commented on…
The Role of the Project Manager
- Fri 17 March 1:30pm

Ben commented on…
The Role of the Project Manager
- Sun 12 March 12:30pm

Latest tweets

General Project Management • No Sponsor https://t.co/ii52CgAiCs #projectsmart #pmot about 8 days ago

General Project Management • Re: Software Product Delivery Plan for an Agile project https://t.co/v8ondVdaME #projectsmart #pmot about 9 days ago

General Project Management • Re: How do you track who from your human resources have related… https://t.co/QzAyOJ27cp #projectsmart #pmot about 9 days ago