The Project Manager and the Sheepdog
The sheep dog focuses on keeping the flock together, rounding up any strays and maintaining momentum in the right direction. The Shepherd’s focus is to ensure there is a clear path ahead to enable the sheep dog to do their job. They check for external obstacles such as a flood or blocked lane. If there is a problem (issue) they direct the sheep dog to change the planned route so that the flock is safely delivered to a new pasture.
Whilst a simple analogy that does not include the complexities many people routinely work with, I think it is a good visual picture of the roles of the Project Sponsor (Executive) and the Project Manager. Both roles are working the a achieve the goals of the project, but their responsibilities are at different levels.
In any organisation delivering a project there is a need to have someone (Project Manager) who is busy ensuring there is co-ordination between different parts of the organisation and external suppliers to deliver products. On the other hand it will be so much easier to deliver successfully if someone else is checking that the project aligns with the organisational strategy. It also helps if that person scans for organisational obstacles and clears the ready for the Project Manager.
We would love to hear about your analogy for project, programme or portfolio management. Feel free to contact us to share your ideas – we will publish all those which gain a thumbs up from the Team at CUPE International!