Three Words You Should Never Forget as a PMP Project Manager!

Seasons imageThere are a number of Project Management terms and acronyms PMP Project Managers use throughout their daily routine. Work Breakdown Structure, PERT, GERT and CPM, Crashing, Critical Path and Monte Carlo analysis to name just a few. But there are three words that should transcend all of these terms and integrate into everything you do as a Project Manager. These three words are Clarity, Focus and Closure.

Why are these three words so important? Because, the job of a Project Manager is about getting the job done. Keeping these three words in mind during all phases of your project will leave a wake of completion behind you and endless opportunity ahead.

Let’s look at each term a little deeper.

– noun

  1. Clearness or lucidity as to perception or understanding; freedom from indistinctness or ambiguity.

Ambiguity is a project killer. Confusion slows things down. Omissions introduce chaos. Our job as Project Managers is to obliterate ambiguity from our projects. Whether we are on the front end of a project and requirements are being gathered or on the tail-end of wrapping things up, Clarity must always be on our mind.

How can you tell if you have a problem with ambiguity? Listen for comments such as “I thought…”, or “We did it this way last time…”, or “I’m not sure…”. These tell-tale expressions are symptoms of not having a clear understanding of what is expected.

Take whatever steps are necessary to remove ambiguity from your project team member’s minds. This includes strong documentation in a central repository for everyone to reference, regular face-to-face and engaging virtual update meetings, and key decisions being put to writing rather than relying on memory.

Is it unrealistic to think that a Project Manager can anticipate every point of confusion or question that may arise? Yes. However, by everyone understanding the desired outcome, many of these questions will answer themselves.

– noun

  1. A central point, as of attraction, attention, or activity

You just had a great kickoff meeting with your team. Everyone is clear as to what needs to be accomplished and the project is off to a great start. You check in on your resources just a couple of days later. To your dismay and horror, they haven’t even touched what they said they would have done by the end of the week! What happened? Their central point of activity was diverted toward something else.

It can happen to the best of us. A Vice President comes in with a crisis with a customer that needs to be resolved. Or, the President of the company is working with the Sales Team on landing the next big account and a proof of concept needs to be complete before moving forward. Both instances can only be resolved by the resource that just so happens to be assigned to your project!

What can you do? Develop a reputation for being greedy when it comes maintaining focus. You are entrusted with the responsibility of completing this project, not somebody else’s. Don’t let anyone or anything stand in your way of accomplishing that goal. We all know that you may still lose your resource; however, the repercussions to your project will be clearly understood and agreed upon. And, next time, if there is a choice to make, chances are good that it will be somebody else’s resource that will be impacted and not yours.

Does this fly in the face of being a team player? No. Your function on the team is to get YOUR project done regardless of the jostling and reassignment of resources that occurs every day.

– noun

  1. A bringing to an end; conclusion

How many abandoned projects have you seen piled up on the side of the road on the highway of your career as a Project Manager? The reality is that a great number of projects never come to completion. The reasons are many and varied and range from shifting priorities to budgets drying up to agreeing to do more than what is technically feasible. Additionally, it always seems that the last 20% of the project take as much time and effort as the first 80% and finishing up the project becomes an elusive target.

This is where Closure comes into play. One of the first questions that needs to be asked when a project starts is “what needs to be done to close this project out?” Every decision during each project phase should be made with this question in mind.

Explain this concept to your team. Let them know they should make decisions this way themselves. The sooner a project comes to completion, the sooner its value can be realized and resources can be freed to move on to other projects.

We all know that Project Management is not as easy as 1,2,3. It’s complicated and requires great attention to detail. By keeping Clarity, Focus and Closure at the top of the Project Management terms you use, you will find that you can bring even greater worth to your organization.

*All definitions are from

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