Management Articles


Burning Rubber at the Start of Your Project

By: Dave Paradi

David Paradi is an experienced facilitator and Project Leader for Business Improvement Architects ( He specializes in the areas of Project Management, Strategic Planning and Presentation Technology. Dave's solid understanding of Project Management has been gained through his experience as both a project leader and as a project team member on a variety of projects. In addition to consulting, Dave is currently on the faculty of the York University Masters Certificate in Project Management. Contact at

This article summarizes the presentation Dave Paradi gave at the BIA booth at ProjectWorld 2001 in Toronto.

Get the Best Pit Crew

The success of any race car depends on having a crew who will work together to get the car across the finish line first. The car owner starts by identifying the pit crew chief and together they identify the different roles required to prepare the car, race it and maintain it during the race. Each of the team members is selected for their expertise at their role and they understand what their role in the whole operation is.

Building our project teams is similar to putting together a top pit crew. As a project manager, we work with our sponsor to identify the appropriate roles required for our project. We then develop the list of responsibilities for each role. The responsibilities should be stated as areas of responsibility rather than a task list. The next step is to identify the individuals who we and the sponsor believe would best fit the identified roles.

Once the team is selected, it is important to confirm the roles that each person will play. One way to do this is to use a strengths and weaknesses exercise. Each team member individually lists the strengths they bring to the team related to the identified roles and responsibilities. They also list their weaknesses relative to the roles and responsibilities. Each team member shares their lists with the other team members so that names can be assigned to roles based on what each team member brings to the team. The sharing of weaknesses allows team members to help each other compensate for those areas that are not personal strengths.

In this way, each team member knows exactly what role they play in the team and what they will be responsible for - you get the best crew possible.

Create a Powerful Engine

The engine of a race car is a finely tuned piece of equipment that will be the focal point of the entire crew. The ability of the crew to keep the engine running will determine the success of the car. The entire team is involved in making sure every aspect of the engine is tuned to optimal levels.

In a similar way, the scope statement is the focal point of the project team. It is the key document that the team uses to keep the project on track.

The entire team should be involved in developing the scope statement. While it appears that it would take less time if the project manager developed a draft scope statement and brought it to the team for modification, our experience is that in most cases, major modifications are not made and the level of buy-in by the team is low. When the entire team is involved in the development of the scope statement, they get an opportunity to buy-in to what is being developed and their level of commitment to the project is higher.

The team needs to be very clear on the project goal and the deliverables need to be measurable. The scope statement also needs to be detailed enough to reduce the range of interpretation by team members and stakeholders. The clarity that detail and measurability bring allows the team the freedom to complete the tasks without the loss of focus that comes from time spent wondering whether work being done is in or out of scope.

When a properly formed team is guided by a clear scope statement, they can start their project quickly and ensure they reach the finish line taking the checkered flag.

© 2001 Dave Paradi

Other Articles by Dave Paradi

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. ManagerWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. ManagerWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.


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