Submitted by: David Shoemaker I.

The traditional perception of project management looks at projects as goal-oriented systems created by managers and other administrators. These systems are often filled with ambiguity, technical complexity, and span many diverse goals that seem to be ever-changing. Project leadership attempts to organize this process and succeed in meeting goals. There are three major frameworks for defining project leadership: organizational, project, and individual. We cover these topics in a project management training.

In order to be an effective project manager, it is essential to start with the basics. All projects begin with a specific need. We must develop a plan that specifies how the need can be met while still taking into consideration our time and resource constraints. We develop timelines with specifics tasks and cost estimates as well as ways to measure progress. Despite all of this careful preparation and planning, projects often don’t stay on schedule; or perhaps fail to stick to their budgets; some do not deliver the desired results. Why?


One reason for these failures could be that the techniques we use to complete and plan the projects are inadequate. Another is that sometimes the techniques are improperly implemented. However, the most common reason for failure is that project leadership does not include sufficient time for uncertainty. Every project is different. We cannot implement the same processes and techniques for every project and expect things to run smoothly. Some projects will require more time in the planning phases and others during execution. In a project management training you will learn to account for uncertainty and develop plans that are realistic and thorough.

We start with organizational design theory. Most projects are undertaken by organizations. We need to look at how the organization was designed. We need to look at the fundamental goals of the organization, the environment in which we want to accomplish the goals, and the types of work needed to produce the product or service that we are trying to plan. This last part is important for project leadership. We call this aspect differentiation, meaning that we take big objectives and break them up into smaller tasks. Then the tasks are carried out by specialists (often in groups). After tackling differentiation, integration is the next step. All of these separate tasks that we defined for differentiation must fit together seamlessly at the end.

There are several different ways to approach handling both differentiation and integration. Sometimes it is best to work in a hierarchical structure and other times it is best to work in a team setting; sometimes we must combine the two approaches. Differentiation and integration are often the features that define the way an organization is structured, and it is important to understand those concepts in order to understand an entire organization. And once we understand those concepts we can better appreciate the roles that a project manager serves within such a complex structure. Concepts and strategies such as differentiation and integration make up the basis of a comprehensive project management training. At the end of such a course, you will have the skills needed to be an effective leader.

About the Author: David Shoemaker is Vice President of Learning Solutions and Innovation at eCornell. For more information on

project management training


project leadership

, or eCornell, please visit


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