Do you need to be a good PM (Project Manager) to be a good PM (Prime Minister)?

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As the well-oiled machinery of the establishment cranks up for action over the next four weeks, it set me wondering about the skills and knowledge needed for success in the hustings, and the skills and knowledge needed for success in government.

The contrast between the unswerving support for Churchill during the war (I can still remember my grandmother, in the early sixties, saluting his photograph every time it appeared in the paper a salute to a great man, she always said) and the unceremonious way he was dumped for a post- war Labour Government throws into sharp relief the belief that different leadership skills are needed at different times.

So, is running a successful election campaign a bit like running a successful project? Well, as an activity, it certainly meets the APM definition of a project a unique, transient endeavour, undertaken to achieve a desired outcome You have to have a vision statement (an outward-facing description of the new capabilities resulting from the project delivery). And you certainly have to be good at stakeholder management (the systematic identification, analysis and planning of actions to communicate with, negotiate with and influence stakeholders). You need to be able to manage risk not least what your opponents are saying about you (Dave Gene Hunter Cameron astride the bonnet of a red Audi Quattro) and to develop reactive risk response strategies. But maybe the iron triangle time, cost, quality is dominated by time, as there is a target completion date which cannot be changed.

And what happens if your project is successful, and, on 7th May you are summoned to Buckingham Palace to meet the Project Sponsor and invited to form a government? How will you manage the benefits realisation? Implement the change programme? Manage Business as usual.

Perhaps theres just enough time for all the Party Leaders to complete the APMs APMP or at the very least, the IC in the next few days to improve their chances of success?

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Posted by liz.wilson@apm.org.uk on 12th Apr 2010

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