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PM Believer: Not My Problem

I am a believer in the power of project management.

As a professional project manager for nearly twenty years, I have witnessed project success drive business results. I have also proven that project management can change lives and help achieve personal transformation. Now I am sharing some practical tips and techniques that you can use to help achieve your own personal goals, live your best life and become a PM Believer.

Not My Problem

There’s no avoiding it; project managers usually have diverse skillsets that span roles, categories and technologies. Combine this diverse knowledge base with being skilled problem solvers and project managers can jump in and help with just about any problem in a project. But, should they?

Projects don’t get delivered in a vacuum. They are complicated, and most project teams represent a broad cross-section of the overall organization. Even launching a basic mobile app needs to include user experience (UX) experts, graphic designers, mobile app developers, IT security, infrastructure teams, legal department and potentially more. This is just for an app that doesn’t interact with any other systems or allows shopping. A big team of people, for sure.

Each of the stakeholder groups represented by the project team members has its own processes, priorities and standards in which they are operating. When issues arise in a project, and this will happen, these team members will leverage their deep subject matter expertise and their groups’ overall standards and priorities. These team members are the most qualified resources available to resolve issues.

What’s the role of the project manager when these issues come up? 

The project manager’s job is to know that an issue has come up, that it is assigned to an owner and that the owner has the necessary resources available to support their work. The project manager also needs to understand the impact of the issue and the deadline for having it resolved to avoid significant project impact. Most importantly, the project manager’s role is to support the resolution of the problem by eliminating distractions, coordinating resources and communication, and ensuring that the team has what they need.

None of the project manager’s responsibilities that I mentioned above include the actual resolution of the issue. When a project manager tries to own and resolve all issues themselves, they risk delaying or impacting the effectiveness of the fix. In other words, the PM needs to support (servant leadership) and stay out of the way.

Issues happen in our personal lives too. Sometimes these issues require our attention and hands-on support to resolve them; sometimes, they don’t. Many issues that each of us encounters through our lives will actually be issues owned by somebody else. The job of a good project manager is to support the people who are actively resolving the issues. This support could mean that we are just a sounding board and good listener or that we need to help prevent other distractions from getting in the way.

 When faced with an issue, your first step is to ask yourself an important question. “What does this situation require of me?” Then take the appropriate steps to do what is required, whether you are the repairperson or just a friend.

Have you become aware of an issue impacting a project that you are leading or a stakeholder in? Pause and consider what role you need to play in that issue before jumping in and taking over. It is possible that this is not your problem.

Are you ready to be a PM Believer?

Project managers are great problem solvers, and we encounter no shortage of problems each day. Before jumping in to fix a problem, there is a question to ask yourself first. Maybe this isn’t your problem.

How have you applied project management for your personal success? Tell me about it at and make sure to join my email list to have updates delivered to your inbox weekly.

Make sure to help your friends achieve their goals by sharing this post on your social network and by following me on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.

Want to know more about how I changed my life with project management? Pick up your copy of my book Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds In Under a Year.

About Operation Melt

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Published inPM Believer

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