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13 July 2008

Dear Bas - Conversations with the Project Shrink

Where does the time go?

In the last few weeks Bas de Baar and I have been chatting across our blogs about project management. A couple of the areas we have touched on include training and accreditation. We are now moving into a discussion about some new project roles. Well, at least roles you don’t see on every project team. The idea of a project shrink, for example…


The project shrink idea you articulate reminds me on an ‘executive coach.’ For quite a few years now senior managers and middle managers with aspirations have been booking these coaches to help them reflect, learn and improve their performance. And of course there is the sporting analogy.

So let me see. A person is engaged by a project manager on a part time basis to help the project manager see above the day to day drams and look at the big picture. By helping we don’t mean doing, so deep expertise in project management would not be a mandatory skill set, but some experience wouldn’t hurt. A few war stories of your own help you understand your client and help you raise awareness of particular risks.

Now, this is a role which could be fulfilled within a number of other roles including a project manager’ direct supervisor, by a more senior colleague, or by someone from outside the organisation. Potentially it could also be played by a project sponsor. The trick is in understanding the need and prioritising time (and money) to the activity.

I buy the role is a useful one, especially as projects grow larger and more complex.

Selling the idea to my management is another thing though. They expect me to be an expert when I turn up to my first meeting. In some cases I am the one bringing pm expertise to the environment, so it’s all about levels or layers of pm maturity.

Let me ask you this Bas; Are you using a project shrink? And if not, what do you need to enable the role for you and your projects?


Bas and Craig have a weekly conversation, back and forth on their respective blogs, Project Shrink and Better Projects. With blog titles like that, you don't have to guess what the topic will be.