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Entrepreneur vs Project Manager: The Team

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James Bowen, PMPWatermark Learning is happy to feature our affiliate James Bowen, PMP, who explores the concept of team in entrepreneurship and project management.

Learn how the team focuses and skills in each environment compare.


TeamThis article explores the concept of team in entrepreneurship and project management.

In project management, the team focus is around best use of the team and development of the team to reach optimal productivity, concepts such as organizational structures and Tuckman’s team stages come into play. The team is supported by processes. Processes are activities that individuals use to accomplish goals. This inherently assumes that the best use of the team is the optimal triad match between processes, goals and people. A role of project management is to understand the current situation of that triad and enhance each aspect perhaps through the use of information technology.

In start-up companies, there can be fewer structured or standardized processes, indeed the organization is evolving and processes have not stabilized yet. Therefore the focus on teams is different than a project management, the focus in a start-up is on making a team that can create their own dynamic structures, with an eye to the adhoc, evolving and experimental nature of the startup.

Therefore the skills between the teams in start-up and a project tend to be different. In some ways, a start-up company is similar to a project and could benefit from project management tools and techniques, where the difference lies is in the nature of processes and the skills required of the team.

In a project, the team must have the ability to implement goals through processes. However, accomplishing goals often involves the interaction with others and thus communication is a desirable skill along with effective followership. While in a start-up company, the team must have the ability to influence others, operate in an information deficit and information uncertainty environment and thus perseverance, common understanding on values, goals and roles, and, diversity in experience are key.

While there would be an overlap in some of the aforementioned focuses or skills, we can see the difference in focus. This suggests that selection and training in project management and start-ups needs to be somewhat difference but there are similarities. The team in a project and a start-up both need empowerment, value statements and understanding of goals. Experience in suitable environments tends to help produce required skills and I tend to advocate simulations as a method of gaining an understanding of the importance of such skills. See www.experientialsimulations.com.

Watermark Learning provides training and coaching in Project Management.

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