Category Archives: Effective Project Management


Hand grasping laptop,bringing work project to completion
Photo: Petr Kratochvil

Half of directing is casting the right actors. – John Huston

While it’s true that project planning and management involves gathering data, creating statistics, writing proposals, dazzling with PowerPoint Presentations, Gantt Charts, Fishbone Diagrams, and Flow Charts, it is equally true that the success or failure of your company’s project depends on people. It depends on valuing the individual’s unique qualifications for a particular role in a project.

Unfortunately, we’re becoming a culture with a mixed-message about the importance of individual talent and creativity. Ask just about any job applicant and they’ll tell you that the job application process is about ranking high in keyword capture in software programs before human eyes ever see a job application. So-called ‘soft skills’ common to those with a liberal arts background are undervalued unless accompanied by ‘hard skills’ like thorough knowledge of various computer applications. It is out of this process that the talent pool in your company is often forged.

Putting a project into action is the ideal, fertile ground for reengaging with human potential.


Think like a film director and you can lead the process of any project you take on for your company. ‘Cast’ your ‘movie’ if you will, like John Huston would, with the right people in the first place, and half your work is done. Here’s how:

 First – get to know people as individuals long before there is a project. They don’t call it “human resources” for nothing. Find out:

  • Their interests (do they love photography – even without formal training they may have a good eye for graphics).
  • Their strengths (do they communicate well – even without formal training they may be the perfect ‘pitch-person’ for the project with upper-management)
  • Their weaknesses (if they hate flying and travel is involved in what you’d like them to do, they’ll be better suited for other project tasks)

Second – encourage people with positive feedback when they perform well. As the philosophy goes in the Ken Blanchard Companies, ‘catch people doing things right.’ Not only do you help build their morale and self-confidence, you also forge working relationships that translate into teamwork when it’s time to start a project.

Third – when a project is at hand, ‘cast’ the project based on what you already know about the ‘actors.’ Even if people are being tapped from other areas in the organization, you can still do the same ‘homework.’

If you ‘cast’ the planning, implementation, and management of your company’s project, your ‘production’ will be half done and well on its way to completion before you know it!

Please use the Comments section below for your thoughts on the human element in the administration of a company project.

In the meantime,

Bestest to all, Cynthia Dalton signature