It's March already and I'm still holding true to many of my New Year's resolutions. I said many of them, not all. I haven't been to the gym as often as I'd like, but still more frequently than never. One of my resolutions was to do a better job of keeping in touch with the people I encounter through my workshops, networking, and speaking events. To that end, I've started writing a monthly newsletter. If you are deluged with too much information already, please feel free to unsubscribe.

I am learning much about the consulting business. Having contacts and skills is part of the equation, but the larger part is knowing that consulting is really a marketing business. To that end, I’ve just launched a new web site and this is the very first edition of Communi-Kate, my monthly newsletter. If you like it, let me know. If you don’t like it, let me know what you don’t like. As always, feel free to send me your questions and comments at

You can also follow me on Twitter @projectstrategy.


Have you ever sat back and considered how much is spent each and every year in formulating strategy? Picture a group of smart executives gathering for a few days in a comfortable resort setting with azure blue water lapping up on the beach, brilliant sunshine, great food, and of course, the best equipped corporate meeting rooms where this year’s mission, vision, values, and strategic objectives can be coaxed into reality. Sound expensive? Formidable, yet not so expensive when compared to the cost of having a strategy that isn’t communicated, understood, and embraced by all.

Let’s start with decision making. There are inherent weaknesses in using the GOES-AT decision method. GOES-AT, you ask? It’s an acronym that stands for a “Group Of Executives Sitting Around Talking”. Usually the squeaky wheel wins, solid consensus is missing and rarely is there good assessment of which projects are truly delivering the most value. When the strategy is developed using a rational and transparent decision making process, people know why one project is of higher priority than another. Priority is readily understood when there is clarity and consensus regarding the relative contribution of each project to each strategic objective. The real value in understanding project payoffs is reduced goal conflict and an organization that is primed to execute.

Executives are meant to ensure that execution happens, yet somewhere between strategy and execution, too many companies get snagged. How can we set the stage for execution? Communicating strategic objectives and project priorities throughout all levels of the organization focuses attention on getting the right projects done as quickly as possible. By aligning resources (dollars) with those projects that deliver the most value in terms of ROI or increased organizational capacity, we end up doing fewer projects and enjoying dramatically improved results.

Rapid execution occurs when organizations undertake the right number and size of projects and when processes and people are in synch. In effect, we can achieve more by doing less. Sure having project plans with milestones and deliverables is important; but executing according to plan is far more important. We can only do that when the project processes are being followed and when the organization can proactively make course corrections. Who follows the processes and follows up when necessary? It’s the people on the project teams. Knowing how their individual tasks contribute to the success of the organization is highly motivating. Employees who dance close to the value line are among the most highly prized and satisfied people.

And so, strategy isn’t just for the executive team and execution isn’t just for project team members. Both need to be communicated and shared if they are to make good bed fellows.


Are your projects stumbling at key touch points? In simple terms, project integration management means making sure that all the pieces fit together so that overall the project runs smoothly; on time, on budget and meeting all of the requirements. In my experience, when projects stumble it is usually because someone has dropped the ball; not always in a big way, but in a way that matters. If you want to make sure your projects run smoothly, manage the integration points.

1. Between project phases.
When a phase is completed, one or more deliverables are produced. Each of these deliverables is an input to the next phase. If any of the deliverables fail to meet specifications or customer requirements, the next phase begins at a marked disadvantage.

2. Between product and project processes.
Every project has product oriented processes that result in the creation of the finished product (service or result) of the project. Each project also has project management processes that organize and manage the work of the project. Manage the interactions between product and project processes and your project will run more smoothly.

3. Between knowledge areas.
Your boss tells you that the budget for your project has just been slashed by 20%. You know, the economy is in a tail spin and everyone is hurting. Blah! Blah! Blah! (It is February, right?) Consider the integration of the knowledge areas. A change in any knowledge area impacts several other knowledge areas. What impact does a budget change have on the schedule, scope, quality, communications, risk, and so on?

4. Between project management process groups.
Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing are the five process groups. Each process group occurs to some extent in each phase of your project. Each has its own set of project management deliverables. For example, Initiating is complete when the Project Charter is approved. Detailed planning should not begin without a project charter. When the planning processes are complete, you should have a Project Management Plan comprised of eight or more subsidiary management plans and an approved Scope Statement. The Project Management Plan and Scope Statement support the executing processes… and so on. By managing interactions between the process groups, you make sure that you are doing the right things every step of the way.

5. Between the project team and the rest of the organization.
Ah, the ugly resource contention issue rears its head. Your project team is part of a larger organization. Most team members have a full time job in their functional area and contribute effort to more than one project. If your project is to be deemed a success, you must manage the interactions of the project with the rest of the organization.

Are you barking up the wrong tree? Without an approved project charter, you could be wasting effort doing the wrong project. Do it right!

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Communi-Kate is a free, monthly newsletter on improving bottom line results through better management of projects, programs, and portfolios. Back issues can be downloaded for free at Kathryn Pottruff is a senior business executive and President of Pottruff Consulting Inc. Working with individuals and organizations, we drive profitability by improving how projects, programs, and portfolios are managed. We work with our clients to establish processes, systems and tools that deliver value and build competitive advantage. In short, we transform paralyzing complexity into dramatic results!

Phone: 905-901-4266


Goldstein N.J., Martin, S.J. and Cialdini, RB.
Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive, Free Press, New York 2008.

Cialdini has collaborated in putting forth another great read on how to influence and persuade others. Through 50 small vignettes he presents a variety of ethical persuasion strategies and shows us how to resist tactics that influence our own decision making.