Projects are always exciting. Sometimes when I think of the type of work that is required, the difference that the outcomes will make to the organization and the type of challenges that the project owner will be faced with I want to say Yes to every strategic project. I like being pushed, figuring things out and contributing. It is part service and part feeding the ego.
Managers will accept projects which will assist them in the long run. They will engage with me to do any project that makes them look good, increases their bottom-line, serves the needs of staff and increases their power base. Any project that hints of a loss of power will be shunned.
So when it was hinted that I take on a huge project in the organization, I had mixed emotions. The ego was happy, this was clearly a testament to my tenacity and brilliance since I was chosen, but then the logic kicked in.
How do I say yes to a project when I do not have the authority to change anything? Why would I enter into a situation that I cannot influence or control? Why would I sign up for eminent failure?
Instead of saying No I explained my position and stated what I need. For me to engage in the project I need a clear mandate from the CEO. I need him to tell all the managers that he has vested his authority for that project to me and that I have his full backing. As the managers feel the pinch, during implementation or when they complain about my actions the CEO needs to be consistent in his support of my efforts.
This is the only way that the project will work and the only way it will be successful. Anything less means that I will be doing things without making a difference. Without his full backing, the project will be held ransom to the whims and fancies of the managers and they will determine what can and cannot be done.
I am not naive enough to pretend that everything will be OK. I know the players, I have worked with them and though there has never been a contentious issue with any of them, I can predict where resistance will come from. I don’t give them wrong. It is their worlds that will be changing and they have to deal with the fall out. They are right to disagree, defend and do what they think is right to maintain the status quo and their power base.
The challenge to get the project done is not theirs, it will be mine. I cannot pull rank, they do not report to me and some of them are higher up the food chain than I am. Without the CEO vesting some level of authority into the position the project is doomed to fail. And so will I.
Have you ever worked on a project where you did not have the authority to effect the needed changes? Tell me what happened.