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Project Managers vs. Executives – Part 3


What do the Dumb-dumbs in the executive offices know?

In the first two parts of this series, we learned how to decide which executive to start building a relationship with, and what we need to do in order to advocate project management processes in our company. In this final part of the series, we’ll talk about a very important, but often overlooked, part of the advocacy process – when to advocate.

Part 3: When

After you’ve done all your homework and learned about selling, it’s time to start working.

As with any communication between people, timing is important.

Choose a time to talk with your executive when a project has succeeded in a way that the executive can appreciate.

The worst time to talk with an executive is when a project has failed, or is on the road to failure.

Even when a project is proceeding well, there’s no proof for your pudding.

Be careful to understand the executive’s timing as well. Just after layoffs are announced is probably not a good time. Wait for a few days – or until the assistant lets you know that it’s okay.

Choose a time to talk when you won’t be interrupted. It’s often a good idea to get out of the office – lunch, coffee, dinner, or some other place where the two of you can talk openly.

Because you’ve gotten to know a bit about this executive, you’ll know how much small talk he/she wants. Many executives want to get to the point quickly – even at dinner.


We’ve talked about the who, what, and when of talking with executives about the value of project management practices.

Be picky about who you talk with. Choose with care.

Build a relationship with that executive. Base your talks on the benefits that project management practices will bring to the strategy that the executive has.

Choose your times to talk very carefully. Make sure you’re both ready to talk, and go somewhere that limits interruptions.

This is only the starting point. There’s so much involved – people skills, communication skills, strategic thinking – that it takes time.

There are two main points:

1. Build a one-to-one relationship with the executive
2. Talk with one executive at a time

Until next time . . .

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