The Laws of Engagement

by Lakecia Carter, PMP

Projects are vehicles of change. As change leaders, project managers are the drivers of success. One of the most critical success factors is the scope of engagement. A relevant definition of engagement is “a promise, obligation, or other condition that binds”. When we initiate a project, the engagement must be clearly defined. The engagement will seal the deal for the project. Unfortunately, many projects continue to fail because we bypass this step. The lack of clearly understood roles, responsibilities and expectation setting contributes to the failure. The scope of engagement is essential to the projects’ success. Here are three laws of engagement that every PM needs to follow:

Law #1: Be explicit.

Roles and responsibilities must be clearly defined and understood. A job title is not the same as a role on the project. Never assume the meaning of a role. It is important to understand and agree on the tasks in and out of scope.

Law #2: Be realistic.

It takes an entire team to achieve the end goal. We should never overcommit ourselves.  Understand your capacity and plan for the appropriate amount of resources and time. Most of all prioritize the most business critical needs that return the greatest value.

Law #3: Begin with the end in mind.

Failure to plan our exit strategy early or clearly enough is a huge mistake. Teams need to be equipped with the tools and techniques to carry the change forward after we move on. Agree upon the process and timing to ensure a smooth transition.

The scope of engagement conversation can be a quick one. The key is to make sure that you never initiate a project without it. As a result, you and your team will propel forward with confidence and clarity. What other laws must be present in your scope of engagement?

If you found these tips from Lakecia Carter, PMP of value and are a PMP looking to earn PMI PDUs, you might be interested in her self-paced, downloadable courses at


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