The Adaptive Project Manager Skills Series: The Mindset

29 July

Project management is a practice that begins and ends with the perception of the environment and goals affecting the initiative being worked on. That perception is formed by the set of assumptions, methods, or notions the project manager and influential stakeholders believe to be true: their mindsets.

It merits mentioning that no matter how close alignment appears to be between individuals or groups, no two mindsets are ever the same.

The ability to understand what mindsets are comprised of, how malleable or brittle they are, the context of their origins, and how they are distributed is a fundamental skill adaptive project managers possess. Having this foundation enables the adaptive project manager to understand the differences and similarities between and among mindsets. And with that understanding, potential knowledge of the impact those mindsets could or will have on the outcome of the project. However, this is not a “one and done” activity.

Developing an accurate picture of stakeholder mindsets is an ongoing process and especially critical in the context of change. The key word here is accurate. Successful adaptive project managers continuously validate and revise their comprehension of stakeholder mindsets and their own mindsets as well. The converse is also true: failing to review or revise mindsets with sufficient regularity will result in inaccurate assessments, which if acted upon, could have severe consequences.

If you are an aspiring adaptive project manager, a virtual cornucopia of training, tools, techniques, and strategies to discover, record and validate mindsets is available online. Closer to home, one often overlooked area potentially containing a wealth of stakeholder-specific information is human resources.  With proper permissions, access to hiring or training documents, particularly skill and personality assessments, can be obtained. The information they contain can be invaluable to comprehending “mindset induced” blockages or formulating effective messaging strategies.

Adaptive project managers know that their mission is to mobilise people to deliver successful outcomes. This can only be achieved with a firm recognition that stakeholder mindsets are what really drive or impede progress.


Posted by Cris Casey.

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