What Is a Project Execution Culture?

(First published January, 2021)

Over the many years of my involvement in project management, I eventually learned that project success comes from more than just good people, processes and tools.  Lately I’ve been very vocal about the connection between strategy and the work that we all are doing, but even this will not guarantee success. And then some might suggest it’s all about leadership and how one person drives all of us. While critically important, it still doesn’t cut it.

In fact, successful project execution comes from all of this and more. Project success comes from a culture that has been built around the people, the leaders, the process and all of that other ‘stuff’. Is it driven by one person? Possibly but more often it’s driven by everything and everyone.

In my days, I’ve seen strong, healthy and successful project environments. You can feel the culture around you. I’ve also seen disasters where there actually was a project execution culture, but it was negative, debilitating and, in the end, very unsuccessful.

It has taken many years for senior executives and senior managers to understand the importance of project management.  Now they need to understand the importance of a strong project execution culture.

That culture starts with a belief and understanding that the organization is driven by projects and they are critical to our success. It moves on to the recognition that the people running projects are critical to our success. Then around to the fact that the health and safety and happiness of those people are critical to our success. We then throw in great tools, a strong investment in education and the recognition that standard processes are important.  Eventually we can look and see that a healthy project execution culture is the critical factor to organizational success.

If you are in a position of leadership within the project management environment, think about what your environment looks like. Can it be truly labeled as a strong, healthy and successful project management culture?  If not, then may I suggest you have a great goal or objective for 2022.  Fix this.

If you are in a position of influence to people that run your project management organization, may I suggest you forward this post to them.

The development of a healthy project management culture is the next step to everything else that we have been doing over these years. It’s hard to read about this in the books and it’s certainly not something that we can purchase off the shelves. But a healthy, project management culture is available to all of us and well worth the journey.


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