PW&WCBA – Pam Stanton – Understanding the Human Part of the Gantt Chart

Pam Stanton speaking on Understanding the Human Part of the Gantt Chart to Lead Teams to Victory

“Project Managers [often] take the body blow for failed projects.”

“Human Behavior is Not a Work Breakdown Structure!”

What is The Project Whisperer?

  • Helping teams to recognize and embrace the human dynamics of the workplace.
  • Has the ability to identify, interpret, and understand the behaviors of the team
  • Uses their understanding of an individual’s personality, though process, needs, and communication style to build the trust and confidence necessary for a strong partnership.
  • Applies this keen insight to lead the team with techniques for trust and respect.

“If you take care of people the project will take care of itself.”

“A project team acts as a living, breathing entity that undergoes a physical and emotional journey.”

Stage 1: Shiny Happy People

  • Project is chartered
  • Team is being recruited
  • Optimism reigns
  • Need to focus on building a team that covers required expertise while leveraging individual strengths and opportunities
  • Get to know people on an individual level; start building rapport and credibility.
  • Get the right people into the right roles

Stage 2: Confusion Sets In

  • Ambiguity breeds fear
  • Leadership wants plan
  • Team resists planning
  • Vicious cycle: ambiguity, anxiety, analysis paralysis
  • Establish your role as a leader
  • Create safe context for planning
  • Break through the analysis paralysis

Stage 3: Valley of Despair

  • Throwing it over the wall
  • Interpersonal conflicts
  • Oh crap! moment
  • Set the example for your team
  • Keep the team strong and intact
  • Gather the details needed for foundation

Stage 4: Blast-Off!

  • Time to deploy
  • Still complexity, unknowns
  • Team may be nervous, want to delay the project
  • Address team anxiety
  • Manage public relations

Stage 5: Cruisin’

  • Initial rush and crush is over
  • Things start smoothing out
  • May still be a long haul
  • Team starts to lose steam
  • Keep everyone mentally engaged
  • Keep the team physically intact

Stage 6: The Long Tail

  • The project is dragging on

Stage 7: Movin’ On

  • Project fizzles out
  • No one feels recognized
  • No feeling of success
  • Leave people feeling energized and wanting more
  • Contribute to talent development

What Agile Scout likes about Pam Stanton’s talk:

Is how she gave pragmatic advice about how to deal with projects. This advice was not only well delivered but easily tangible for the audience. We like what we saw and will take a lot from her talk back to our clients. What is really interesting is the fact that she didn’t talk a single bit about software development or any “real” project management techniques. It was all about the soft skills. All about the people skills.

This was a refreshing look at how to manage teams through people-management.

The Premise of Projects in the view of a project whisperer:

  • Projects are primarily about people.
  • There are predictable behavioral dynamics of team during a project.
  • Methodology alone will not get you there.

“Be real about what you know, and build roles around what people love.”

As a Project Whisperer, when managing projects you need to:

  • Exhibit confidence and assess real risk
  • Develop a think tank and keep people grounded
  • Make complainers part of the solution and confront interpersonal issues
  • Create a straw-model yourself and roll up your own sleeves
  • Acknowledge struggles and address role mismatches
  • Course-correct and set the stage for failure
  • Communicate to leadership and make the unpredictable more predictable
  • Keep your teams energy high and foster healthy competition
  • Fend off poachers and create paths of least resistance
  • Isolate issues and exceptions and document a plan for follow-up and accountability
  • Gain leadership alignment and celebrate
  • Declare victories and aggressively pursue recognition: Visibility, rewards, career opportunity

If you’d like to find out more about Pam Stanton, you can go to her website here: and read her book, The Project Whisperer, here:

2 Replies to “PW&WCBA – Pam Stanton – Understanding the Human Part of the Gantt Chart”

Leave a Reply