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  • Chance McNeely

Cat Herders Don't Make Great Project Managers

When you hear "project management" you may think of a grumpy guy with a clipboard walking around making sure people are doing their jobs. The term "cat herder" also may come to mind: trying to keep lots of folks on task. If you can relate to these mental pictures, then you may not be surprised to know that over 70 percent of organizations have had a project failure in the last year. More than 50 percent of completed projects end up not producing desired results.


Despite these bleak statistics, there is widespread consensus in the business community that effective project management is key to organizational success. Why is it then that projects fail so frequently? A key culprit is a lack of clear goals. Let's dive in.


In today's world, organizations rightly strive to be lean and mean. Taking on a new initiative can put your already overworked team on edge and result in lost productivity and even project failure. As discussed in our recent blog post, the necessity of maintaining day-to-day operations makes changing or taking on new efforts difficult even when doing so is vital.

Taking on a special project requires a team leader who can carefully and kindly deliver the finished product on time. The professionals on your team possess the knowledge and information needed for the effort to be successful. An effective project manager is someone who can sell the vision, create achievable goals, and be empathetic while holding team members accountable. Not everyone is capable of this approach.


When people understand why the extra work is important and are treated with respect while they juggle their regular jobs, the road to success is a much smoother ride. It's time to rid our minds of the guy trudging around with his clipboard keeping "tabs" on the workers and "herding cats." That approach just doesn't work.


At Premier, our goal is simply to ensure a successful project outcome. We start by studying the project and analyzing the members of the team so that we can consider realities in developing and executing the game plan. Communication is key, and we do so early and often to create buy-in and trust. We have extensive experience in project management, both as the team captain and as the team member. If you have a special project that will require engagement from multiple employees or stakeholders, let us help you build and execute a winning strategy.

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