Find out how executive management support protects your project against uncertainty. I’ll start by sharing my experience about a time when I went camping with my friend who is an aeronautical engineer and who is also very interested in astronomy. Out of the city, very far away from the city lights, we started traveling in the sky with his advanced telescope. As the feeling of how tiny we were in the giant space covered my whole body, I came up with Jupiter. It was amazing to be able to see its four satellites.
“Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system, and its volume is over 1,300 times the volume of Earth. This means that Jupiter is so big that over 1,300 Earths could fit inside of it” (Cool Cosmos, n.d.). Not all astronomers but most including my friend tell me that Jupiter’s gravity is so overbearing that it acts like a “gravitational shield deflecting incoming space junk, mainly comets, away from the inner solar system where it could do for us what an asteroid apparently did for the dinosaurs” millions of years ago (Dennis Overbye, 2009). So Jupiter eliminates or minimizes the risk of Earth being hit by asteroids, space junk, etc. by using its great power.
Our projects like our Earth can be protected by the ones who have power, influence, and authority like Jupiter does. The Standish Group’s Chaos Report for 2014 mentions executive management support as one of the critical success factors for project performance. Similarly, PMI’s “2010 Government Program Management Study found that 81 percent of program managers at U.S. government agencies said that strong support from at least one executive-level sponsor had a high impact on project success” (Moize, 2015).
So our projects have their own Jupiter also: Executive Management.
The Earth orbits the Sun in the milky way galaxy in space. The uncertainty level is unbelievable. However, the Earth has lived for millions of years in this uncertainty. Doesn’t this prove the power of Jupiter and shouldn’t we thank this giant planet?
Managing risks requires a proactive approach. Project managers face the challenge of identifying risks not only at the beginning of the project but also throughout the project life cycle. As they identified the risks, they are expected to assess them in order to make a prioritization of these risks. The risks that have high priority deserve more attention to make it possible to develop response plans. An effective proactive approach is only possible if you are able to realize and execute the response plans.
Here comes the second challenge. Executing the response plans require time, money, and executive support. After all, you as a project manager claim to spend money and time in order to eliminate or minimize a risk event possibility or effect before it happens. Wouldn’t you need the support of the executive management and the project sponsor to spend money and time to overcome uncertainty? Yes, you need a Jupiter to support you in this uncertainty otherwise you will be faced with all the asteroids and comets by yourself. Before they come, you and your Jupiter should prevent them from harming the Earth, your project. Moreover, some of the asteroids may even have a higher volume than your project which will lead your project to become a dust cloud in space.
A Project that has executive management support is like the Earth having Jupiter’s gravitational shield. Without this shield, you will be vulnerable in the space of uncertainty.
Mustafa Hafizoglu, PMP, BS, M.Sc., is the co-founder and previous President of the PMI Chapter in Turkey, Program Director at Space & Defence Technologies Co., a part-time instructor at Middle East Technical University. He has 20 years of experience in hardware and software development projects, in the aerospace and defense industry. Mustafa established the PMO at SDT Space and Defense Tech and co-authored the book: Project Management Analytical Approaches. He’s also a speaker at PMI Global Congress and various international seminars. Mustafa writes about program management and risk management.