Ownership – Encourage It

When there is something you really want to do, did the idea usually come from yourself or somebody else?

I am talking about those super are exciting projects that you think will change the world. Or at least change your world.  If you are going to be honest with yourself, the idea most likely came from you.  Maybe you are adapting someone else’s idea, but most people tend to get a far more excited about something they have thought of themselves than by following advice from someone else.

You can use this to your advantage.

One thing that is very important is that when you are managing a project is that you want the people involved to feel like they are owners. You want them to have pride in and feel responsibility for the outcome. In short you want them to feel like it is their process or project.  The more people feel like something is theirs, the more they want to see it taken care of and handled correctly.

So here it is a key.

When you are brainstorming for ideas of how to build projects or improve processes,
try not to be the one that comes up with the solutions, but rather the person who has the leads others to the answers.  Even if you have what you think is a breakthrough idea, try
to lead the the group there. If it really is a breakthrough idea, they will probably get there on their own and because they are the experts, will probably improve upon it. Be subtle and give nudges in that direction. But don’t be hyper focus on the idea.  Allow that beautiful group dynamic to blossom.

Use leading questions.

The questions can be very simple:

  • I have already written about asking “Why?”
  • “How else would you/we do this?”
  • “Where is the weak point?”
  • “Where are we strongest?  How do we utilize that strength?”
  • “What would you do differently?”
  • “In a perfect world how would you design this?”

As the project manager, you already own the project. Whether it succeeds or fails, your name is attached and you have some responsibility, just like everyone else on the project team.   You want the team members to take that ownership.

As the team that has works through the project or the process, the more each person contributes and the more of their ideas that are implemented, the more ownership that person is going to take. They are going to be more committed and more involved.  You want all of that.

Remember, you are the project manager. At the end of this project you are likely going to move on to other initiatives leaving the other members of the team to carry forward with the results of their project.  Let them take ownership up front and then is very easy for them to keep it running when you are done. In fact, if they get to the point where they think your participation is superfluous (in a good way), you have really done your job.


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