Enabling Collaboration Between The CXO and PM For Project Success 

As the pandemic has redefined society all over the world, the global business ecosystem has stepped into a new era of transformation and resiliency. 

Transformation requires organisations to think of new strategies to create value. Therefore, organisations need to change the way they use people, processes, and technology to unlock new opportunities and maximise productivity. 

However, to achieve these optimal results through transformation, it is critical to get the correct balance of art and science related to both people and organisational aspects. 

So, one of the essential steps you need to take in order to get the right blend of art and science for project success is enabling collaboration between the CXO and PM (as way too often, for several CXOs, project management is a commodity and probably low-cost work, while for several PMs, it remains an art).

In this article, we analyse the mindset traps that typically CXOs and PMs fall into and keep them from achieving greater levels of success. We will also provide valuable advice on how to help them change these negative thought patterns to improve collaboration and reach the desired outcomes. 

Hence, we will provide you with meaningful insights that hopefully will help you acquire deeper knowledge about the art and science of transformation programs and increase your organisation’s performance. 


Table of contents:

  1. CXOs: Common Mindset Traps & How To Avoid Them
  2. PMs: Common Mindset Traps & How To Avoid Them

1. CXOs: Common Mindset Traps & How To Avoid Them

CXOs Working In Project Management

How CXOs see program management and project management discipline

  • For most CXOs, idea and strategy are essential, while execution tends to be a given – The reason for that is that once they’ve paid millions to large consulting firms to build their strategy plan, the CXOs tend to believe that implementing the strategy and executing is the easiest part of the transformation program. 
  • CXOs tend to believe that once the business case has emerged, new delivery will follow – Way too often, CXOs believe that once the project was signed off, the business case will ensure that the targeted value will be delivered. 
  • Often CXOs believe that execution will strictly follow the decided plan – Strategy plans are often based on high-level plans of implementation of a number of initiatives. However, when CXOs switch from plan to implementation, there is an expectation that nothing unplanned will ever happen and disturb them. 
  • CXOs tend to believe in the Watermelon KPI – The Watermelon KPI describes false-positive indicators (green outside and red inside, just like a watermelon) that distract from the important work of creating value. Watermelon KPIs can quickly lead to failure (because CXOs may believe that there’s no need for change and improvement when everything is green).  
  • CXOs also tend to believe that project status and project decisions are not their business – Often they think that the decisions are to be taken by project managers without them being involved in the decision-making process.  
CXOs Collaborating For Project Success

How to educate your CXOs to inverse these perceptions 

  • CXOs need to look at Project Management as value first, not as cost – For example, you can remind them that the cost of a well-performing project manager has a huge return on investment. So, the fact that the project manager keeps optimising their staff, looking for planning acceleration and elaborating alternative plans to manage the unplanned is actually a key success factor for a project. 
  • They need to understand that value realisation starts when the project is fully implemented – Essentially, CXOs need to learn that execution isn’t less meaningful than idea and strategy. They need, therefore, to fully understand the importance of the execution phase, where visions and plans become a reality.  
  • It would be best if you taught them that no battle plan survives the first contact with the enemy – In other words, they should be aware that the steps that need to be taken won’t happen 100% as planned as unexpected events are likely to occur (think of the coronavirus pandemic as an example). However, if they focus on collaboration to manage unexpected situations, the desired objectives are highly likely to be reached.   
  • CXOs need to nurture transparency as a culture – A culture of transparency is critical within an organisation. A culture of transparency can improve project reporting, enhance collaboration, build trust, and increase productivity, all while enabling everyone to see the big picture. 
  • Tell them not to shoot the bad-news postman – Sometimes, transparency means bad news. However, CXOs must not “shoot the messenger’ that brings bad news and take retribution against them. They should instead want to hear bad news as quickly as possible so that they have a chance to respond quickly. 
  • Tell them that the project will require their tough yet right decisions – A good decision can be taken only if CXOs have a fully understanding of a situation. CXOs should be involved in the decision-making process so that you can give them control and fully onboard them. As a result, they will become your best support and sponsors.

2. PMs: Common Mindset Traps & How To Avoid Them

Project Managers Using A Project Management Tool

How PMs see program management and project management discipline

  • Often, the project manager thinks that they are the only one to know it all – Have you noticed that project managers are barely taking any holidays and are always busy? In project management, this behaviour is called the expert syndrome. In other words, PMs tend to think that they are impossible to replace. 
  • PMs also tend to think that every project has specific problems that require specific solutions – For this reason, many PMs do not look for solutions elsewhere. Once they’ve identified an issue, they simply ask their team to find a solution and fix the problem.  
  • PMs believe that capitalisation does not apply to project management – Often, PMs tend to forget that capitalisation applies to their discipline as well (and not only to other disciplines, such as software development, training, user acceptance testing, etc.)
  • Way too often, PMs believe that teams are responsible for solving problems – Many PMs believe that they don’t own the problems, but their teams do. However, problem-solving is an essential skill for PMs as the way they deal with problems on the project has a major impact on the project’s success. 
  • Many PMs believe that avoiding project status “red” (alert) allows a better PM life – Many PMs display green KPIs even though they are not fully convinced that these KPIs are green. More often than not, they prefer to display green KPIs because they believe green KPIs create a more peaceful environment.  
  • PMs tend to believe that CXOs cannot help them – Sometimes, PMs see the CXOs as being too far from reality and too far from what is happening in the project, so they avoid asking them for help and support. 

How to educate your PMs to inverse these perceptions 

  • “Let me lend you my Project Management toolbox” – If you are an experienced project manager, for sure you have your own Project Management toolbox (whether or not you’ve documented it). So, you should share with your PM your project management toolbox, meaning the key learnings you’ve gained from your own experience with projects. 
  • Teach your PMs that project management software and tools are more than project repositories – Today, project management software and tools can do much more than that. For example, a good project management tool can help you with your project from design to its full value realisation.  
  • Remind your PMs that problem solving is a critical skill for them – When you coach your PM to become a problem solver, they will find it rewarding and understand how much value they can add to the organisation thanks to this skill. 
  • Tell your PMs that they will benefit from tough yet right decisions from their CXOs – You should teach your PMs not to be afraid to ask for the CXOs decision. This strategy is also a great way to enhance collaboration, even though the CXO should have the final call. 
  • Tell them that everyone, including the PMs, needs help – You should tell your PMs that Superman does not exist and everyone needs help from time to time.Asking for help at the right time is a considerable strength and the best way to grow as a person and deliver value to the organisation. It would be best if you also told them that asking for help reduces surprises and gets faster resolution. 

CXOs & PMs During A Project Meeting

Conclusion: Successful projects are the result of efficient collaboration. Even though the project manager has many responsibilities, CXOs (and other individuals covering key roles within an organisation, including the CEO) need to do their part and undertake their duties. 

If you’re looking for cutting-edge technology to facilitate collaboration among project stakeholders  (among a myriad of other top-notch features), Focus HQis your key solution to successful project management. Do not hesitate to book a free demonstration and learn how Focus HQ can guide all of your projects to success, from idea to delivery and benefits realisation.