Resource Your Project With Peter Drucker’s Help

Plan made of good intentions“The best plan is only good intentions unless it leads into work.” — Peter Drucker, Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices

Commit to the Plan

The first step in getting resources for your project is to get agreement on how to deliver the project. Prepare the approach for delivering your project and call for a meeting with the stated objective of getting agreement on the plan; your unstated objective is getting a commitment for resources.

Prepare the meeting. Make sure you have addressed the concerns of key players. The ask for resources is only done if the team agrees to the plan as a team.

Build a Team Identity

This is also the time to build or reinforce the definition of the group. Identify the meeting and the attendees with a group name, e.g. Project X Sponsors; Project X Steering Committee; Project X Key Stakeholders.

Once you have agreement on the plan, it is time talk about the next actions. Instill a sense of urgency. We have plan, we have agreed it needs to get done; let’s get started on the actions before time is lost.

The Quote

Peter Drucker goes on to explain that the only way a plan will lead into work is through the commitment of key resources to work on specific tasks. The plan is ‘only a plan’ if the project is missing the resources needed to deliver the results.

Set an Example

Start by committing your resources first. If you have an ally, have them commit next. It is important that the team supply their best resources for the job. Anything less and the plan is just good intentions. Anything less is showing a lack of commitment to the freshly agreed plan. The project will struggle to get completed successfully without a show of full commitment.

The Power Behind the Method

This approach leverages, in varying degrees, Robert Cialdini’s six principles of persuasion.

  • Reciprocity – The project manager volunteer’s his best resources first.
  • Commitment and Consistency – We get the team to commit to the plan first.
  • Social Proof – The group commits together to the plan and we ask our ally, a group member, to commit to commit his resources.
  • Authority – Peter Drucker is an authority on management. This will speak louder to the team than project management theory.
  • Liking – We create an atmosphere for mutual liking by identifying the group as a team and approving the plan together.
  • Scarcity – We frame our request in terms of avoiding lost time and taking advantage of an opportunity.

Agree to the plan as a team, ask the team to put their money where their mouths are and you have increased your chances of delivering your project successfully.

Get An Active Committment

Jump from Nevis Bungee PlatformOne of the key indicators of project success is bringing it on-time and one of the classic challenges of project managers is that at least some of the people needed to deliver the project on-time do not report to the project manager.

Delia Cioffi and Randy Garner published the results of two studies in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin of February 1996 showing that by getting people to actively commit to an action they were more likely to do it. Analyses of the studies suggested that when people actively commit to something they will reason their commitment and strengthen their resolve to deliver on it. People are also less likely to refuse to commit when they are actively solicited because of social influence.

When you are planning activities for a project, ask the resources to supply the delivery date themselves and to confirm it. Do not rely on implied dates. Avoid suggesting dates. Prefer getting the resource to give the date themselves and confirm. If possible, have them put it in writing. The more active the act of committing to a date is, the more likely the resource will make the effort to deliver on-time.