Monday, September 6, 2010

So you wanna be a Program Executive

With apologies to my DoD friends who more or less own the term "program executive", I am using it in the context of a senior program manager with a "bet the business" kind of project, something really important and expensive.

If you are yearning for the opportunity, or shopping for a PE, here are five characteristics I look for:

1. Can [and does] speak truth to power. This means standing tall for the project and taking on powerful objections.

2. Recognizes anchoring bias when present, and can pick apart utility responses. In short has a good feel for qualitative and quantitative risk assessment.

3. Understands results have precedence over process, but nevertheless respects and honors process as the capture of past experience...things that work. However, in the end, the customer buys results, not process.

4. Applies political skills commensurate with the political sensitivities of the project. An important discriminator between a skillful PE and a competent PM is political skills.

5. Inspires by drawing from a firm conviction for the task at hand. Motivates by creating a personal value proposition for everyone involved.

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