The Entrepreneurial Project Manager – a myth or reality?

I was chatting with a highly experienced project and programme manager recently. We were discussing entrepreneurial thinking within major projects, and the importance of that mindset in todays’ complex, interconnected and changing world.

‘I think I am an entrepreneur as a project manager,’ he told me, ‘I have to be to do my job well.’

He made me think. Is running a project like running your own business?

You are after all managing the budget, the staff, solving problems, keeping customers or stakeholders happy, holding all the responsibility. You are initiating, planning, executing and controlling the work of the team to delivery your project scope on cost and schedule. You are an implementation specialist.

The differences are that entrepreneurs are usually working with their own money and starting with very little; this means that if they keep the costs down, they get more to take home. Entrepreneurs are often pushing the boundaries of what is possible and actively seeking the next opportunity to grow and innovate. Entrepreneurs have to bring people along with them on a journey of what often starts out as belief, and if they are to be successful, they must create a positive environment for business growth. Entrepreneurs are change specialists.

Is it possible to have both skills – the Entrepreneurial Project Manager? Or are the two areas mutually exclusive?

To be able to deliver the project on cost and schedule AND innovate, influence and create the environment to grow the wider business.

And yet these entrepreneurial skills are teachable – I know because we have been doing this for some years. Here are five steps you can do right now to be more entrepreneurial.

What do you think? Are most project managers already like entrepreneurs or is an Entrepreneurial Project Manager something a bit different? Is it desirable? Or do you think the opposite – entrepreneurship has no place in the project management field and you are just wanting an implementation specialist?

I’d love to know your thoughts on the subject.

PS, If you would like to develop entrepreneurial thinking in your PM’s then we just might be able to help.

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