Manage projects instead of managing: what makes successful project captains


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Above all, managing projects on the edge of chaos is successful! It is the nature of a project that goals change in the process that members do Team change appointments are overturned or the market makes new demands. How do you deal with such imponderables?Manage projects instead of managing: what makes successful project captains project capitals


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Olaf Hinz Style: "Color tone - warm"Olaf Hinz was the office manager of Peer Steinbrück, and today he is a leader in the field of challenging waters.

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Craft and attitude

Unpredictability is one of the core properties of a project. Obviously, a successful project manager should master the basic skills and be able to plan, document and visualize the project process through the usual procedures and tools.

In addition, the project's leadership, communication and staging still require something else: an attitude that awakens, concentrates and satisfies seagoing serenity in the project-immanent insecurity.

The project leader as foreign minister

An important task for the project captain, as foreign minister, is to provide the project with impulses and information from the company.

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While the project team concentrates on the internal task, ie the factual and professional solution of the project order, the project manager is busy identifying the processes and persons who are outside and are relevant to the project.

Transparency and teambuilding

The project manager goes into the company and clarifies the project environment and the feasibility of the project idea. He finds in the many-voiced choir of the representatives of interests the ones with which he wants to communicate actively, intentionally and influence, and then goes into project communication micro-politically.

Internally, the project manager, through his leadership behavior, ensures that the project team is transparent Sense and context arise and use the existing group dynamics and any resistance to achieve the goal.

Use tools effectively as tools

Anyone who acts in this way no longer abuses planning tools and PM models to eliminate the complexity, but uses them as a tool to effectively control the project.

Above all, he shows an attitude that is characterized by curiosity, risk awareness and the willingness to make decisions even in unclear situations.

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Decide the indisputable

Leading means deciding what is undecidable is the apparent paradox that we owe to Heinz von Förster. Because the decidable is already decided, already regulated in the form of job descriptions, “razor-sharp” interface papers, instructions, rules of the game and agreements.

Therefore, a project manager who wants to be effective addresses the questions that are not already a rule, he turns to the undecidable decisions.

If checklists are no longer enough

The occurrence of undecidable decisions makes it clear that a complexity limit is exceeded, from which the behavior and progress of a project can no longer be precisely calculated and planned, but can only be prognosticated and controlled in situ.

There are no more checklists to hold onto. A manager who is faced with an undecidable decision can ultimately only have recourse to experiences from comparable situations.

The risk of making a wrong decision

The manager in an ambiguous situation has to make decisions based on forecasts and comparing them with his experience. In doing so, she always takes the risk of making a “wrong” decision. Because what alternative is really the "right", it can not know in an undecidable decision.

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Effective project captains can ask open questions and actively listen, they master the process management, the control of group dynamics and the lateral management of temporary teams.

Characteristics of successful project managers

The successful project captain differs above all in four points from his colleague, who relies solely on the power of the tools and method:

  • He works with descriptions rather than starting from an “objective truth”.
  • He thinks in alternatives rather than looking for clear solutions.
  • He focuses on networking instead of linear causal chains.
  • He decides the indecisive decisions, rather than deciding in unexpected situations.

Mastering these levels of demands confidently is the big challenge. That is exactly why I like to speak of the supreme discipline of leadership in the management of projects.


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  1. Reiner

    Super, super, super! Thumbs up for your contribution to the project management!

  2. Michael

    And again a great contribution to project management. For me, your blog is one of the best HR and career blogs ever. If not the best ever!

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