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Nothing but a pack of projects

Adeline Teoh ed.
September 22, 2011

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where—” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“—so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

—from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Leave aside for a moment restorative and disaster recovery projects and focus on projects that we do to improve and enhance our organisations and the world around us. To drive those projects we need direction, and that direction must come from a leader or leadership team.

But it isn’t enough to have a good leader. A leader must have vision, for without vision there is nowhere to go, otherwise known as the ‘if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there’ effect. And with that must come stakeholder buy-in into the vision.

Then there’s strategy, which is the implementation of vision. That’s where many projects come in. You, as the project manager, need to know where your project sits in your organisation’s strategy. Perhaps, as a portfolio manager or as part of a PMO, you already know?

Last week I attended an event featuring the newly appointed Infrastructure NSW chairman Nick Greiner, who spoke openly about the direction the independent, government-appointed body would take to improve infrastructure delivery in the state of New South Wales.

One of the most telling things he said was that the previous government had no shortage of plans but the value of these plans was questionable: “There is a transport plan, it’s not a meaningful plan: it’s a collection of projects.”

This tells us that a project is not enough without vision and strategy behind it. Infrastructure NSW and Infrastructure Australia recognise that, and I hope their influence on their respective governments will go towards delivering benefits via projects in a more professional way, which is what the project management discipline deserves.

Read more on Infrastructure NSW and Nick Greiner’s views in our special news report, NSW in infrastructure project shake-up.

It also begs the question, should more project managers get involved in developing the business case and selecting the projects? What do you think?

Leaderships, vision, strategy—without that overlay, it’s nothing but a pack of projects.

Adeline Teoh ed.
Adeline Teoh is the editor of She has more than a decade of publishing experience in the fields of business and education, and has specialised in writing about project management since 2007.
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