6 Reasons Why the New Book “Strategies for Project Sponsorship” Will Be an Instant PM Classic
A Review of Strategies for Project Sponsorship, by Vicki James, Ron Rosenhead, and Peter Taylor (Management Concepts Press, 2013)
Strategies for Project Sponsorship is a unique blend of practical, step-by-step tools; hard-won wisdom from the PM trenches; and solid, research-based recommendations. As a PM author reading this book, I found myself in awe of how nimbly the authors weaved together seemingly disparate elements: here citing research findings, there providing war stories or case study examples, and finally pivoting to morph these into powerful, ready-to-use tools.
As someone who’s both managed projects and trained project managers for more than three decades, I know this for certain: This book should be in every project manager’s tool kit and in every project sponsor’s briefcase.
Here are six reasons I believe this book will become an instant PM classic:
1. It shares powerful PM wisdom, based on real-world experience, regarding the subtle and nuanced process of sponsoring a project. A few sample topics:
- What is Project Sponsorship?
- The Sponsor’s Role
- What Do the Professionals Say?
- Who Does What and When?
- Who Should Sponsor Your Project?
2. It provides insights that are typically unavailable to project managers without spending years gaining experience and acquiring scar tissue! Some sample topics:
- The types of power that are needed to manage a project and a framework for evaluating whether this power is available via the sponsor or project manager
- A series of case study interviews in which “candidate sponsors” reveal their potential value to the project by the way they answer key questions
- Pros and cons of various ways to influence your sponsor (e.g., through appeals to logic, friendship, deal-making, values, allegiance, etc.)
- How to give your sponsor feedback (including a sample back & forth dialogue) and how to handle bad news)
- How to deal with several types of “challenging” sponsors , including the symptoms, prognosis, and prescriptions for dealing with sponsors who are absent, busy, uninterested, inexperienced, untrained, and more.
- How to deal with influential stakeholders (senior managers, others) who can be uniquely engaged via sponsor involvement with them.
3. It provides practical, easy-to-use tools for project managers. Examples:
- The Sponsor Responsibilities Evaluation Tool (Helps you evaluate your sponsor)
- The Project Manager Evaluation Tool (Helps you evaluate your ability to work you’re your sponsor)
- An agenda for the first meeting with the sponsor (along with tips on how to position and use this)
- Stakeholder matrix (describing roles, risks, impact on project, how to manage the stakeholder
- Step-by-step guide to creating an influence map (showing organizational power related to your project and how it flows among key stakeholders and how your sponsor can work with this)
- The Definitive Project Manager Checklist
4. It does what every project manager has always wanted to do: It gently, but firmly, educates project sponsors about their crucial role. Sample topics relating to sponsor responsibilities and best practices include:
- Providing Direction and Guidance
- Helping Develop the Project Charter
- Identifying and Quantifying Business Benefits to Be Achieved
- Making Go/No-Go Decisions
- Negotiating Funding for the Project
- Chairing the Project Steering Committee
- Assisting with the Resolution of Interproject Boundary Issues
- Supporting the Project Manager in Conflict Resolution
- Making the Project Visible Within the Organization
- Advising the Project Manager About Protocols, Political Issues, and Potential Sensitivities
- Evaluating the Project’s Success Upon Completion
5. It provides practical, easy-to-use tools for project sponsors. For example:
- Sponsor Responsibility Improvement Needs Assessment (a self-check)
- The Definitive Project Sponsor Checklist
- The 50 Secrets to Being A Good Executive Sponsor
6. It is firmly grounded in research. Specifically,
- An extensive original survey: The Strategies for Project Sponsorship Survey
- The Standish Group’s CHAOS Manifesto 2012: The Year of the Executive Sponsor
Reading this book, I had two voices in my head repeatedly proclaiming enthusiastically:
- “Yes! That’s right! I know exactly what they’re saying. I learned that same lesson myself via the School of Hard Knocks on the [XYZ] project a few years ago.”
- “Wow! What a great resource! This is the tool I’ve always needed, but didn’t realize I was missing!”
My recommendation: If you manage projects, get a copy of Strategies for Project Sponsorship for yourself. And then get one for all your project sponsors.
(Prediction: Within one year of the publication of this book, PMI will form a committee to create a certification for project sponsors. Within two years that certification will be officially unleashed. Soon thereafter a hoard of consultants and trainers will create a cottage industry devoted to the training of sponsors so they may attain the certification. [Sound far fetched? Remember the home-qrown Agile movement? Hmmm…] I take some comfort in the knowledge that these consultants and trainers will likely be using this text as their primary source! 🙂 )
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Posted: March 30th, 2013 under Project Management.
Tags: book review, Peter Taylor, Project Management, project management teams, project sponsor, project sponsorship, Ron Rosenhead, Strategies for Project Sponsorship, team building, Vicki James